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.
Lest we forget
Another Anzac Day has come and gone. We’ve had the traditional dawn parades and other gatherings around the war memorials of the nation: the veterans have marched, the wreaths have been laid, the speeches have been delivered and the Last Post has been played. We have also had the reminders: Lest we forget and We will remember them.
The media have played their part too, with television presenters and news readers wearing the obligatory red poppies and the channels and papers recalling battles glorious and deeds victorious.
It is right and proper that our small country, which has given so many lives per head of population in foreign fields over the last 114 years, should pause and remember the heroism, sacrifices and contributions New Zealanders have made in times of war. Most Kiwis at this time, out on the streets, buy a red poppy to keep faith with the fallen and the veterans.
The horrendous toll of wars
However, the reality of war is that most casualties are civilians, caught up in conflicts because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tragically, tens of millions of innocent people over the centuries have been slaughtered, injured, raped and displaced because of military campaigns aimed at achieving short term political goals.
In New Zealand, we recall the effects of war on families on the home front who lost husbands, fathers, sons and brothers in campaigns on the other side of the world. However, it is hard for us to identify with the plight of families overseas who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves living on battlefields.
We can’t imagine what it would be like to have to leave our homes in Te Moana Road, Manly Street, Rosetta Road and Wellington Road; put our belongings on a cart and head north, south, east or west, possibly never to return.
The white poppy
‘All we are saying is give peace a chance — John Lennon
At Speakers Corner, recently, John Murray (see above) reminded listeners of the wide ranging casualties of war and the importance of the white poppy: a symbol of peace. Amnesty’s Wickham Pack followed up with reference to what should have been front page news in our papers and first story on the TV news: a treaty to limit arms sales.
The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the first treaty on the global arms trade, which seeks to regulate the $70 billion business in conventional arms and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. Louis Charbonneau
It passed by 154 votes to 3 with 23 abstentions, however did our media notice?
Time for reflection
So as another Anzac Day passes we should reflect on the futility of war and its incredibly destructive effects on people, property and production. We should honour and remember all the fallen, injured and displaced, and resolve, above all, to give peace a chance.