Today like so many New Zealanders I watched an ANZAC ceremony paying respect and remembering NZ (and Australian) soldiers who fought in wars over the last 100yrs.
In Wellington at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, four young women read two poems that captured the essence of today. Yes it is probably true that English teachers "trot out" their favourite war poems at the end of Term 1 or the beginning of Term 2 - Flanders Field or Dulce et Decorum est.
However, the growing number of New Zealanders, especially young New Zealanders who visit Anzac Cove or attend Anzac day ceremonies around the country show that it is seen as a significant day. And yes, I am one of those English teachers who shares WW1 poetry with my classes around the date of ANZAC day.
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
The figure at the paddock's
The shadow in the football team,
The memory beside the hedge,
The notes behind a song that seem
Another song, a different dream –
The past we harvest that was yours,
The present that you gave for ours.
The life in places once your
And left behind, and what was said
To husband, father, lover, son,
Are stories that were lost instead,
That ran to darkness where you bled –
Are what we owe you, we who say
'See morning in its usual way
Moving along the ridges, the
Day broadening on the river,
The warmth of cities wakening, the sight
Of roads ahead and doors forever
Onto families, friends, whatever
Life allows us, one another –
What we have and you do not, our brother.'
Solemn the speeches and the drum
That draw you to the unguessed tomb,
But more than these, the sounds that come
To us as once to you, from
Bach and backyard, from marae and town,
Our standing where you too have stood
‘Now and forever, home is good'.