As always I found yesterday’s dawn parade a sobering experience, it was great to be able to take the kids for the first time and as we all loaded into the car at 5.00am I wasn’t sure how they would view it through their sleepy eyes.
Watching the traffic backed up on the motorway as we sneaked through back streets hoping for a park was almost unbelievable and to see the 20 000 people in attendance felt significant and important. It wasn’t until that afternoon when, after a lazy day at home followed by a quick car trip and a walk along the beach at Takapuna and Milford (followed by a very nice ice cream) that I thought about it some more.
Anzac Day is commemorative, which goes without saying, but it is also a celebration of all that is good about where we live. It is about experiencing all the simple pleasures that our forebears fought so hard to protect. It’s being able to walk along a beach on a sunny day, to enjoy the many public spaces that we have at our fingertips and spending time with the people that we love in a safe country and culturally it feels so much more unified than Waitangi Day.
The boys and young men (of all races and backgrounds) who went away to war would have had simple dreams of an Ice Cream on a sunny day, children’s laughs, Tui songs and Pohutakawa trees as they lived and died on foreign soil. I can’t imagine how it would have felt to survive the terror of war and to return and experience that once more.
For me Anzac Days significance and growing popularity is that it has become a celebration of all that is good about New Zealand. It doesn’t just commemorate the past any more; it celebrates whom we are as a nation 97 years on and what we all have to look forward to.
Made possible by the sacrifices of so many so long ago.