This following was published in The Gisborne Herald on Saturday 24 April 2010:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
On the 25th of April, 1915, ANZAC soldiers joined Allied forces in battle on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, part of the former Ottoman Empire allied to Germany. There they campaigned against Turkish forces to open up safe naval access through the waters of the Dardanelles Strait.
The campaign lasted for 260 days. Of the 8556 NZ soldiers that landed in Gallipoli, 2721 lost their lives, and 4852 were wounded. Australian, British, and French forces suffered the loss of more than 51,000 soldiers. Approximately 87,000 Turk soldiers also died.
The loss of life in this one campaign was staggering in its time, and remains so today.
We should respect the fact that these men, sons, brothers, and fathers, laid their lives down for the freedoms that we enjoy today. We must not forget that our own personal views on war and peace, whatever they may be, are held and aired here in the luxury of a free and prosperous Aotearoa-New Zealand.
I encourage all of you, then, to attend an ANZAC Day service tomorrow, and to remember all those brave souls who answered the call of their countries, and entered the theatre of war on our behalf.
And for all those who hold to the Christian faith, there is an even higher call that we should honour:
“Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
May we live as peacemakers, and not builders of conflict. May we have the courage to turn our swords into plough-shares (Micah 4). And may our children never have to know war.