Anzac Day, April 25, the day that the Australian and New
Zealand Army Corps landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, a
quickly organised attempt at a takeover of the Turkish
Peninsula to capture Constantinople and secure a sea route to
This campaign made casualties of 7473 New Zealanders and
Anzac Day makes me think about the birth of our national
identity; no longer were we just a colony, we were a country,
a nation with its own beliefs and values that were important,
significant and specific to us as New Zealanders, as Kiwis.
Anzac Day for me is not only a day full of national pride and
history, it is a day of remembrance, not only of my relatives
who fought or fell in combat, but also of the bravery, the
loyalty and the lessons learned across all wars and battles.
I am 17 years old.
In 1914 and 1915, at my age, or even younger, many boys went
off to war, joining other men from all over New Zealand
It is not too difficult for me to imagine the amount of
courage necessary for those young men to leave their
families, friends and sweethearts to travel halfway around
the globe to fight and, if necessary, to die for our freedom.
These men weren't already members of the armed forces either;
they weren't trained in the art of killing They were bankers,
grocers, farmhands, doctors, teachers.
They were ordinary men who had the love for their country
necessary for them to take up arms to secure its freedom.
They had no idea what they were in for; they didn't know the
shocking conditions they'd have to live in, the meagre food
they'd have to eat, the overwhelming training and
capabilities of the enemy, or perhaps even the most deadly
opponent, the diseases they'd be exposed to.
The fact that the patriotism of our soldiers was so strong
that even the most terrified soldier was braver than any
other, fighting to keep our pristine nation free and not for
medals or decorations, is something to commemorate.
It is something that should make every New Zealander's heart
fill with pride.
As Laurence Binyon said in his Ode to Remembrance: With proud
thanksgiving, a mother for her children England mourns for
her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit
of spirit, fallen in the cause of the free.
Anzac Day for me is also a reminder of our nation's loyalty
to our Allies.
The king's declaration of war on Germany and the Ottoman
Empire spoke not only for England, but for all the British
Empire's dominions on August 4, 1914.
We didn't even shudder at the thought, we didn't um and ah,
we had respect for where we had come from and who had given
us the clay that we as a country moulded into our national
An interesting point that I discovered was that in 1939
little old New Zealand at the bottom of the world declared
war on Germany itself after Britain declared war, unlike
Australia which went along with England and assumed Britain's
declaration as one that included them as one of the empire's
dominions once again.
A great example of how quickly our identity evolved, we were
able to speak for ourselves, we were our own people.
Anzac Day is also a time to reflect, reflect on the lessons
we can all take away from both the First and Second World
There are so many, but in the long run it all comes down to
what is right and wrong.
Was it right that each man's psyche was determined by the
stereotypical view of the colour of his uniform?Was it right
that one colour was seen as good and one was seen as bad? Was
it right that each and every man and woman who saw action was
As we look forward to the Centenary of Anzac Day in 2015,
these questions will no doubt return to the forefront of
people's minds as they congregate once more on the shores of
Gallipoli or at dawn services throughout Australia and New
I was selling poppies on the Friday before Anzac Day with the
Palmerston RSA and I heard something two men were talking
They said, ''The brave that fought we will never . . . nor
should we ever have to, experience what those men went
It is true. War is horrifying, terrifying and ferocious and
what I think is the most sadly ironic thing is that at the
end of it, we are all the same, regardless of borders,
beliefs and or race - we are all human.
Here are some of the thoughts that are written on the Anzac
Cove war memorial in Turkey: Those heroes that shed their
blood and lost their lives . . . You are now lying in the
soil of a friendly country. You, the mothers, who sent their
sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons
are now in peace. After having lost their lives on this land
they have become our sons as well.
• By Michael Lister, Year 13, East Otago High School