Tag Archives: remembering

Erratum

It’s 3am on Sunday 11 September 2016.  Waking in the night is not something I do with any regularity and today I awoke realising that I had made a mistake in yesterday’s post – Another Year On

Originally I wrote –

“On the eve of 9/11 many of us here in New Zealand are thinking of that tragic day in 2001 when so many lives were lost, so many lives were changed and the world as we knew it changed suddenly and forever.”

Then I chaged it to

“Of course yesterday it was 9/11 here in New Zealand, and  many of us were  thinking of that tragic day in 2001 when so many lives were lost, so many lives were changed and the world as we knew it changed suddenly and forever.”

Confusion because here in New Zealand we say 11/9 and those of you in North America say 9/11.  In any event everything else in yesterday’s post still stands and today we will remember those who lost their lives, those who helped rescue some and the people whose lives were changed forever.

 

 

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ANZAC Day 2012

“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,
Here 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.”

A memorial containing those words was unveiled by the Australian Veteran Affairs Minister on 25 April 1985.  The cove has been named ANZAC Cove by the Turks.

I wrote about ANZAC Day last year in quite some detail. From being a day of remembrance for those who fought and lost their lives at Gallipoli, it has now moved into a day of  remembrance for all those who have lost their lives in war and honours those who served and returned.

The story starts in 1914 when cabled reports from Britain – the Homeland – reached Australia and New Zealand forecasting that Europe was teetering on the edge of war.

When Britons returned to work after the August Bank Holiday, war was declared on Germany and involved the whole British Empire.  All the colonies were quick to jump in and offer their young men in service to the Empire.

Australia was in the middle of an election campaign.  The leader of the opposition offered Britain  “Our last man and our last shilling” in any war against Germany, and the Prime Minister responded with “Our duty is quite clear – gird up our loins and remember that we are Britons”.  How the young men loved that.  And how they rushed join up.  Many of them falsified their age to be in the army.  And I wonder how many would do that today.

Excitement was in the air and all around and the young men seemed to think this was a great adventure.  Many were concerned that they would miss out on the fun because this war was  ‘going to be over by Christmas”.  Alas, as we know this was not true and so many of those young men lost their lives on battlefields far from home.

On April 25th 1915 the ANZACS  landed at a cove in Gallipoli (now named Anzac Cove) and the Turks were ready and waiting for them.  On the first day in excess of 2,000 of these young Australian and New Zealand men were killed.  They were forced to retreat.  A further advance against the Turks was made in August but with the same miserable result.  On December 20th the force was evacuated and this evacuation was the only successful operation conducted at Gallipoli.

Anzac flag

Now these young men and their bravery are commemorated on April 25th every year in both New Zealand and Australia.  It is a Public Holiday with shops being closed until 1pm in New Zealand.  And each year thousands of people attend the dawn service held at 5.45 am all around our country and in Australia.  Many of those attending wear the medals won by relatives in many wars.  Anzac Day is not just for the  failed Gallipoli campaign but to remember all those who fought for their country.

What a terrible waste of so many young lives.  But isn’t all war wherever and whenever it is fought.

The word ANZAC has become part of the culture of New Zealanders and Australians. There are ANZAC biscuits and rugby and rugby league teams from the two countries play an ANZAC Day test.  And people talk about the ‘spirit of ANZAC”.  The Spirit of ANZAC was suggested by official war historian C.E.W. Bean to have ‘stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.’ ”

Click here for scenes from the time and to hear The Pogues singing “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” the song that was played as the ANZACS sailed away on that October morning in 1914 on their way to ‘the war to end all wars’.

Anzac Poppy

ANZAC Poppy

Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’  – the fourth verse of which is so familiar to us today was quoted by Sir Winston Churchill,( 1874 – 1965), British statesman and politician, Prime Minister of Britain during the Second World War:

“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.”

Trumpeter sounding the Last Post

Photo Mike Bowers, Sydney Morning Herald

R.I.P.

Alec Campbell
Last Gallipoli survivor from Australia
(died May 2002 aged 103)

Alfred Douglas Dibley
Last Gallipoli survivor from New Zealand
(died 18 December 1997 aged 101)

One Year On

Today in New Zealand, there is only one thing uppermost in everybody’s mind.  Christchurch and the big one.

Map of New Zealand

On February 22 2011 at 12.51 pm a devastating 6.3 earthquake shook Christchurch, killing 185 people and bringing chaos to NZ second largest city.

Today around the country and around the world, services and memorials are being held to mark this day and to pay tribute to those who lost their lives but also to those who made a difference – emergency workers, medical personnel, first responders, police etc.

Of course, all newspapers in New Zealand are carrying the quake as headline stories  Here’s what our Wellington papers the Dominion Post has to say:

“Today is a day for remembering. It is also a day for learning.

It is a day for remembering the students, office workers and passers-by who lost their lives when Christchurch was struck by New Zealand’s worst natural disaster since the 1931 Napier earthquake.

It is a day to remember the courage of medical professionals and ordinary citizens who risked their lives to help survivors trapped in precariously balanced rubble.

It is a day to acknowledge the forbearance of Christchurch’s inhabitants. It is a day to remember the search and rescue teams that came from Japan, Australia, the United States, Taiwan, Great Britain and Singapore to help search for survivors.

And it is a day to learn the lessons of February 22, 2011. New Zealand sits atop the boundary of two major tectonic plates  the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate. Earthquakes are inevitable. The only uncertainty is when and where they will occur.

In Christchurch people died needlessly in some cases because buildings failed to cope with stresses they were supposed to be able to withstand, in others because unreinforced masonry buildings damaged by the September 4 quake that preceded February 22 were allowed to stand despite presenting an increased risk to the public and in yet others because of the narrow brief given to engineers.

Instead of being asked whether buildings were safe to occupy, they were asked whether buildings had been structurally weakened by the earlier quake.

For some, the difference between a few words proved the difference between life and death. Cost and the preservation of historic buildings were put above public safety.

The tension between cost and safety is not unique to Christchurch. Here in the capital, the Wellington City Council estimates there are about 435 “earthquake-prone” unreinforced masonry buildings.

Another 350 buildings, built between 1940 and 1979, are classified as “earthquake risk”. To bring both groups up to 67 per cent of the standard for new buildings would cost close to $2.5 billion.

Plainly, that is unaffordable. Building owners have to be able to recoup expenditure through rents. Older buildings, no matter how structurally sound, are not going to generate the same returns as modern, purpose-built premises.

However, doing nothing is not an option either. Hard decisions have to be made and they have to be made soon. There is no telling when an earthquake will strike Wellington.

Some older buildings should be strengthened to preserve the character of the city. Others must be demolished because of the hazard they present, not just to occupants, but to passers-by.

With judicious planning what springs up in their wake can be just as much an adornment to the city as what was knocked down.

The Christchurch quakes were unexpected. Before the first quake struck seismologists were unaware of the faultline that lay buried beneath the city. The same cannot be said of Wellington.

A big one is coming. When it arrives we must be ready.”

Christchurch Cathedral after 22.02.11

Christchurch Cathedral is probably the most recognisable iconic building in Christchurch and there is strong resolve to rebuild a Cathedral in the City’s centre if the land is found to be stable.

Ode to a Sister

“Regrets I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption”
From My Way sung by Frank Sinatra.

I think as we look back on our lives there are always some regrets.  The road not taken; the decision not made; the opportunity missed.  For me one of my regrets is time not having been spent with family.  Because I moved to the other side of the world I know that I missed out on lots of celebrations but also missed out on shouldering some responsibilities.

Thinking about this today I came up with this “Ode to a Sister”

I am not there when you call out my name
I am not there when you need a sister’s help
I am not there when things go wrong
And you need a shoulder to cry on.
I am not there

I am not there to celebrate the births of grandchildren
Or the marriage of your daughter
I am not there to see your children thriving and
I am not there to see their children growing

I am not there when decisions on mother’s care must be made
I am not there to assure you that the decisions are right
I am not there when mother dies and you have to deal with it
Alone until we came from far away

I am not there to help you cope with father’s aging
I am not there to help make  decisions on his care
I am not there when he dies and again you deal with it
I am not there.

I am not there when more decisions must be made
Dealing with the trappings of our parents lives
Unknown things about them surface
And I am not there.

I am not there to celebrate 21st birthdays
Or special birthdays of your own
I am not there when a special friend dies
I am not there.

I am not there when riots flare around you
And scared you sit alone in your flat
I am not there to hug you and say you will be safe
I am not there.

But I am there always with you
In thoughts and memories that we share
I will always be your loving sister
I am there.

I wrote this as stream of consciousness and it is published just as I wrote it.  so it’s from the heart.

Sisters are very special  and I have said this so many times before.  But before I get mawkish about my sisters, one in London and one in Los Angeles, I shall end this post.

Mother and girls

Mother with her three daughters

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters – never had to have a chaperone, “No sir” – I’m here to keep my eye on her.”  Irving Berlin 1988-1989.
Composer and lyricist


Musings on what might have been..

Footprints in the sand

Only one set of footprints

Have you ever read a poem that seemed to be written just for you?  This is such a poem and it speaks to me in my late husband’s words.  How often did he ask me to put down a book to see something he wanted to share or to tell me something he thought I should like to hear.

This poem from James Rainsford is such a poem for me:

Please put down that book you’re reading now
and gently close its pages.
So no harm shall cometo damage its cold thoughts.
Look up.  Please, look up and see
what little there is left of me where you felt loved.

© James Rainsford – Author, poet, photographer.

Thank you, James, for giving me permission to reprint your poem here.  And for anybody wanting to read more about James and his works click here.

It was almost like the Roberta Flack song ‘Killing me softly with his song” and the words ” He sang as if he knew me in all my dark despair”.  I do think James knew what it was like to be where I was after my husband died.

And for all that misery today I am still very grateful for the 41 years I had with my soulmate.  See My Gratitude List

So that’s my musing for today. I promise to be more upbeat tomorrow.

And today’s quote is from Wayne Dyer, American self-help advocate, author, and lecturer. 1940-

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice. “