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.
For the Fallen
The poppy from Flanders Field in Belgium has become the most visible symbol of Anzac remembrance. When I was a very young child my father taught me the John McCrae poem: “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow, beneath the crosses…”
New Zealanders and Australians now wear poppies in remembrance.
More than 1.5% of the total New Zealand population died in the first World War and just under 1% in WWII 21 years later. Many others have given their lives in too many other battles.
Three years ago I was on the Chatham Islands to mark the centennial of the tragic Gallipoli campaign. Two years ago I was in Hanmer Springs for the dawn service attended by what seemed like thousands of people, young and old, residents and tourists.
Before each service there was silence. Instinctively those gathered knew this moment was sacred. The service was conducted with a formality that is rarely seen today. The responses of the people were heart-felt: “We will remember them.” During the national anthem and the last post everyone stood tall with heads bowed. Then as the service concluded we silently and slowly moved forward to place a poppy at the cenotaph.
The art above is the work of a talented young Chatham Islander, one of a new generation of New Zealanders to appreciate that the ultimate sacrifice is to give live so that others may not only live, but live in freedom.
We are slow to learn that the violence of war can never deliver the depth and stability of peace for which the human heart longs.
Today especially let us pray for peace.
If you, like me, are a fan of M.A.S.H. you will appreciate this clip – jump to :45 for the singing of Dona Nobis Pacem (Give us Peace Lord.)