Friday, April 25, 2014

We Will Remember Them

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
from 'In Flanders Fields' by John McCrae

Today in New Zealand (25 April) it is a public holiday, ANZAC Day.

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It commemorates the landing of the ANZACs at Gallipoli, Turkey during World War I in 1915. Close to 3000 New Zealand soldiers died during the eight-month Gallipoli campaign.

At the time of WW1 New Zealand had a population of approximately 1.1 million people. Of that population 103,000 men served overseas. Of those men 18,200 lost their lives and 41,300 were wounded.

The present ANZAC Day is a time to remember all New Zealanders who have served their country in wars and conflicts around the world. Many New Zealanders attend parades, dawn services or commemorative services.

When I did my big OE in 1989/1990 I did visit Mathausen concentration camp in Germany and I did visit some fields of remembrance in Europe where rows of white crosses showed the silver fern (a New Zealand icon) just reading A New Zealand Soldier. It is very sobering seeing places like these. I think it is the first time I really thought about the World Wars.

This year I have to confess I have watched footage of the dawn parades and documentaries on TV from the comfort of my lounge and I won't deny I do appreciate a day off work, but it is a good time to reflect and consider how lucky we are. We should not only remember the men who went away to war but also the men and women who kept things going back in New Zealand and to the many handcrafts and 'make do' inventions that came about at a time when many things were scarce.

I have just read a fabulous book called 'Thrift to Fantasy' written by Rosemary McLeod about home textile crafts of the 1930 - 1950s. I was surprised at what a good read this book was and it really made me think about how thrifty and creative women were in those years, especially during WWII and the Depression Era, and what a throw-away society we live in today. I would thoroughly recommend this read to anyone but especially to New Zealanders. While I have always loved the old handcrafts I am certainly looking at old handcrafts I see in op shops with a whole new appreciation now and I want to try to recreate some of these handcrafts in miniature.

Unfortunately I really do not know a lot about the history of our family's involvement during the world wars and those that would have known the stories are no longer with us, so while watching coverage on TV today I have been heartened to hear about the many initiatives for recording the stories of those that have memories of these times and about a project by a group of professional photographers who are taking a photograph of the returned servicemen that still survive as they are today.

One story that really made me smile today was on a New Zealand news site on the internet. It was about a 101 year old gentleman who had served in WWII. He had attended a commemoration service in Christchurch, New Zealand with three generations of his family. The photo showed a man full of life and pride with a big beaming smile shaking hands. He said this would probably be his last parade but his daughter said "He always says that". He is apparently known for his sense of humour, was still able to walk with the aid of a walker, still drove his car and did not require reading glasses - but did have hearing aids. He credited his long life span to a mixture of garlic and rum. As I read the article I found myself smiling at the man on the page and thought what a lovely photo for his family to remember him by when he does eventually join his comrades.

We Will Remember Them.


  1. Thank you for a little history on ANZAK Day. I also will look for this book. I am interested to read it now! It is a very interesting story about a 101-year old veteran. I need to implement his secret of long life in my own! Mini hugs, Natalia

  2. Es una idea excelente, recrear en miniatura la artesanía de nuestros antepasados. Me parece un proyecto muy bonito.
    Un abrazo y feliz ANZAK

  3. It good to learn the history of other nations, I too have lost a bit of my families history from the war since the older generation had passed on.

    To have a lively humor well into 100 years of age says a lot about that gentleman, something we could all attain to!

  4. Thank you for sharing the history behind ANZAC Day, Sharee. I really enjoyed reading your post. Yes, it's nice to have the day off of work, but it's wonderful that you took some time to reflect about the meaning of the day.

  5. Interesting post, Sharee. Thank you for the book recommendation. I will try to find it now. xo Jennifer

  6. Thank you very much for this interesting post, it's always great to learn about special traditions, national days etc. of foreign countries...