It is 5.30am and already the streets of Ōtaki are starting to fill. Overhead it is dark, showers drifting through. Yet there is no dampening of the spirits here, quite the opposite.
The drill sargeant calls the parade to order…tennnnnshunnn. Everybody stamps, such authority is hard to resist. The parade sets off down Main St towards Memorial Park. We are young, elderly, and in between and there are hundreds and hundreds of us. We are Pakeha and Maori, right left and centre. Today on ANZAC Day we really are one people with a common cause.
There are solemn moments of reflection as we are reminded of our history and how we emerged as a nation from the efforts of those who served us.
At Memorial Park the official ceremonies begin. Don Moselen with a booming voice that would be right at home on any parade ground introduces the Padre, Ian Campbell. We are led in prayer for the fallen. Mr Moselen brings a message of hope for peace and wreaths are laid.
The National Anthem is sung. There is a sense of social cohesion and unity, forged from the sacrifices made on our behalf. In Ōtaki on this morning we are all a bit prouder, stronger, and richer for the experience.
The Last Post echoes through the Park. We will remember them.no