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99th Year

Today marks the 99th ANZAC day anniversary. Its a day where New Zealanders and Australians respect and remember those who have fallen in battle/war, giving up their lives, so we could live ours. The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.

Ive attended the dawn service for ANZAC day in my home town for years now. I think as I age each year, the day feels like it means more to me. Unlike many other public holidays that celebrate something, this one is more emotional. No one celebrates those who fall in war. We remember them. Giving ones life is the ultimate sacrifice.

When the First World War hit, New Zealand had a population of just over one million. About 120,000 of our men enlisted and went to battle. Of that 120,000 almost half were casualties of war – be it wounded or killed. Many never returned, and remain in the various unmarked graves around the battle fields of the world. For such a small population, we took a big hit.

Attending the service this morning, I walked away reflective and with a sense of emotion remembering the fallen.

I also walked away a little angry and offended. Why? – technology. A number (a very small percentage – but noticeable enough) of people either took phone calls, or failed to silence ringing phones once the service begun. A number (same percentage comment again) of children/young adults were permitted by their parents to play their digital device (pick your favourite), and play it with sound even. Im not quite at the stage of being a grumpy old man (grumpy young man?), but seriously, I found it really disrespectful. The closest example I could give is someone using their phone or playing games when one attends a funeral service – thats never ok.

Said people aside, it was a great and well attended ceremony. Being essentially a 5am start, New Zealand (and other places) holds a number of ceremonies at different times, and in all main cities, towns and suburbs. Next year marks 100 years. Its going to be big. I just hope people bring along their respect.

Back to more Thailand tomorrow!

Lest We Forget

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