It is early morning Anzac Day. I have just watched the dawn service broadcast live from Wellington, and as I look to my right, the sun is rising over the Bombay Hills in the east.
It turns the dark sky to a stunning gold and pink making it hard to imagine those awful days and nights that engulfed our young men 100 years ago on the battlefields of first Gallipoli and then France.
I’ve listened to the wise words of our new Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy and to the moving singing of Abide with Me – how often the words of that hymn must have been prayed in the mud of the Somme, Passchendaele and more.
The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating has reminded me that those young men who went to war so willingly (and naively) weren’t professional soldiers but teachers, scientists, farmers and factory workers, ordinary young people who had no idea of what was ahead.
Someone else has asked whether the bond between we Kiwis and our Aussie neighbours is still strong. I think it is but if it has waned, I hope Anzac Day will remind both Australians and Kiwis of those things that bind us.
We may often be fierce rivals the sport field, and on the water, but every time I cross the Anzac Bridge in Sydney I am moved by those two huge statues, one an Aussie digger wearing that well-recognised slouch hat; the other a Kiwi with his distinctive ‘lemon squeezer’. I am reminded always of the fighting bond that was forged a century ago creating a mateship that still goes beyond just being geographical neighbours.
The dawn service has also brought back my recent visit to the Gallipoli and Great War exhibitions in Wellington where I was truly humbled. Now, Anzac Day has again reminded me of sacrifices made so I could live abundantly today.
And yet the world is not at peace. The Middle East conflict continues to result in massive loss of lives and horrific injuries, once thriving cities have been destroyed, terror attacks come in what was once regarded as safe places and in North Korea, reckless nuclear threats are made with seemingly no regard to the horrors that must surely follow.
Yet, despite uncertainty about the future, I take heart from the warmth and spirit among our young people. So many turned out to honour those who died in all the wars – young innocents still, because no matter how worldly our youth think they are, they are far removed, and largely unknowing, when it comes to those terrible conflicts abroad.
Like others, I am full of admiration for the bravery of the very young men and women who have gone to war, I am, humbled by their sacrifice and I am incredibly grateful that we still live in a land where our daily problems are nothing like the horrors of countries abroad.
Let’s hope real peace will come and not more hostilities.
Now, on a much happier note, Mother’s Day looms and this month’s EastLife, has plenty to keep Mums happy in more ways than one.
So sit down with a cuppa, and enjoy!