The Waikanae Memorial Hall, like so many around the country this ANZAC Day is full. The community of Waikanae has come to pay tribute to the fallen in their Citizens Commemoration Service.
Ōtaki and Districts RSA president Don Moselen introduces the Padre, Anglican Minister Hector Davis, who begins by leading a prayer for the helicopter pilots and crew who were killed in a tragic accident at Pukerua Bay just an hour or so earlier. This is shocking news. It brings home the immediacy of the perils faced by the armed forces, not only in the past but also in the present.
The Mayor addresses the gathering before the guest speaker, Colonel Tim Rogerson, ED (Rtrd) is introduced.
Colonel Rogerson is a gifted orator who held us all in rapt attention. He told us of two brothers, Alex and Roy Cargo who set off on what many at the time thought would be a great adventure. Of the 8000 Kiwis who left for that war over 2000 were killed and 4000 injured. It was a bloody and brutal experience and in that process our unique New Zealand character was being formed. Of the two brothers, Roy was killed and Alex was wounded.
Colonel Rogerson reminded us of the speech of Mustafa Ataturk, a Turkish officer who later become the President of Turkey. Ataturk said, “Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
The message from Colonel Rogerson is that of hope, of the protection of that which we hold dear. Freedom is worth fighting for. We have it because it was fought for, at great cost.
With many hundreds in attendence Mr Moselen said the numbers attending ANZAC ceremonies was increasing each year.
“There are far more kids now. It is partly due to the curriculum in schools. Kids are now more aware of their history. It is phenomenal to see so many kids out here.”