It was New Zealand and Australia’s version of Remembrance Sunday yesterday: Anzac Day. The day – a public holiday – remembers the contribution of past and current members of the armed forces. The name ‘Anzac’ stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and dates back to when troops from both countries fought and died together at Gallipoli.
For the first time we went to the dawn service. Feilding, my home town, was also the home town of Tim O’Connell, the first New Zealand soldier to be killed in Afghanistan last year and, yesterday, members of his family laid a wreath in his memory. His was the first name to be added to the war memorial since the Second World War: a sad honour to hold.
Hundreds of people attended the dawn service at Feilding’s war memorial and I was pleased to be one of them. And as we drove north to Auckland yesterday we passed through several small towns; each one had its own war memorial and each memorial was covered in wreaths, showing that dawn services had been held everywhere. I like that.