Deputy Head Boy Christopher Swanson and Deputy Head Girl Bethany Langton visited the Alandale Rest Home over ANZAC Day weekend, delivering heartfelt tribute speeches.
Christopher Swanson, Deputy Head Boy
On this day, 25 April 2015, we mark the hundredth anniversary of the New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the ANZACS – marching onto the shores of the Dardanelles Peninsula.
Like hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, who gather at memorials in cities and towns across New Zealand, we have come here to commemorate one of the most significant events in our country’s calendar.
The ANZACs' mission on this defining day, 100 years ago was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and Black Sea. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders. Thousands of brave men lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign. All up, 8,700 Australians and 2,779 New Zealanders died in the Gallipoli campaign.
Ordinary people just like you and me, had to leave loved ones behind and go fight for our country. Leaving family and loved ones anxiously waiting to whether their beloved husband, father or son would ever return. On Anzac day, we salute not only the spirit of the ANZACs but, in paying tribute to them, we take the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to strive for our country and uphold our country’s qualities like the ANZACs did and still do to this day.
The ANZACs indeed command and deserve the respect and remembrance of present and future generations of all New Zealanders and Australians, regardless of race, colour or creed.
To this day, as the number of ANZACs grows smaller, the ANZAC spirit, which was passed onto us from battlefields long ago, will live on because it is a reflection of the very heart of our nation. Our men and women of the New Zealand defence force serving in New Zealand and overseas, carrying on the spirit of ANZAC and the legacy of the ANZACs.
Today, a new generation of our soldiers, airmen and sailors are serving in troubled locations, including Afghanistan, the Middle East, Sinai, Sudan and the Solomon Islands to name a few. It is now a long standing tradition that on ANZAC Day we all pause to remember those that offered up their life in the defence of their nation and community, which is the greatest contribution any citizen can make. This tradition is as relevant today as it was when our troops landed on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915.
Bethany Langton, Deputy Head Girl
We are part of the second generation of New Zealand people that have not experienced the immediate impact of war. We will never understand what it feels like to be enrolled into cadet training as a 12-year-old at school, like what happened under the defence act in 1909. We will never understand how it will feel for our father to return from overseas war, wounded either physically or mentally, and see him struggle to integrate back into the family and society. We will never feel the confusion and disparity of the shores of Gallipoli, like our troops did 100 years to this day.
No, you see what we feel is the freedom. A freedom that, had our people not risked or given their lives for, we may never have had. For surely if happiness is the product of freedom, then freedom is the reward of courage. Courage being the ability to fight and stand by your country when there is so much to lose. Courage shown by those we remember on this day.
We feel pride. The pride to be a New Zealander and come together on this day, paying our respect to those that have gone before us and subsequently given us the lives that we have.
We feel a duty. A duty to continue on the importance and relevance of ANZAC day to our future country. This is so that we never forget the sacrifice of our men and women and the trauma of war. Because the day we forget is the day that we make the lives lost not only at Gallipoli but in both WW1 and WW2 in vain.
100 years from now, New Zealand could be a completely different country. Other wars may have been fought, our current allies could be our future enemies. But on this day in 100 years I would like to think that my children’s children will wake up early, put on their fabric poppies and take a minute in silence to thank those that protected our country. Future generations need to be reminded that happiness has a price. We should be grateful to those that have helped preserve our nation and way of life through their sacrifice.