TTWWD – Anzac Day 2013 Tauranga

This is rather different in many ways from the Remembrance Services in the UK.

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The day, Anzac Day, is always a National holiday in Australia and New Zealand. It is one thing that is indelibly linked for the two countries and is marked on 25 April no matter what day that falls. Movements in the past have tried to suggest it should be marked on the nearest Sunday, but these motions have been firmly rejected by all parties.
The date marks the early morning landings on the beach at Gallipoli, the most devastating defeat of the First World War campaign, urged on by Winston Churchill (newly returned from the Boer War and still a young man). The project was doomed from the start and the losses in that campaign alone for the Anzac troops was horrendous, 8700 Australians and over 2700 New Zealand men, from young countries with small populations still struggling to recover from similar losses in the Boer War.
In both countries, and in every city and town, the Act of Remembrance starts at dawn. Even before 6am people are gathering at Cenotaphs and Memorial Gardens.

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There follows a march past of the veterans, serving forces and scouts. Another difference, and one which is not without commentary, is that the descendants of medal holders ( campaign or honours) are entitled to wear the medals of their fathers and grandfathers. But the question is should they also be permitted to march with the veterans? Is this not a day to remember The Fallen and to honour those that survived conflict? This now includes all conflict, Vietnam, Malaya, Korea and now Afghanistan. So another question arises: can an Act of Remembrance also include peacekeepers?
After prayers, readings (and hymns in some of the larger cities) there is a fly-past.

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Then the crowds disperse to spend the day as they wish. It was immensely moving, there were two such Acts of Remembrance in Tauranga alone, at The Mount where we were, there must have been at least 5000 people, and this attendance is now repeated all over New Zealand and Australia, and all over the world, including Gallipoli itself, where the soldiers of both sides lie in their several graves, equally lost and equally remembered.
Rain was forecast and rain fell, but still they stood to remember and to honour, and I was there.

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The roads were quiet, many of the shops and cafes closed. We went to McClaren Falls to see the autumn colours.

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