The Very Rev John Murray
former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
Greetings my friends, Kia ora tatou katoa, e hoa ma
Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou i runga i te ingoa o te Atua – greetings in the name of God
Today I am wearing two poppies – two poppies to show the Spirit and the spirituality we are sharing, in this act of Remembrance.
Red is for the shedding of life blood, the cost of war. Blood soaking in to the earth, bodies mutilated and destroyed.
Red for the remembrance of the sons of our families, killed, maimed,
shattered in body, mind and spirit.
We shall remember them.
White is for remembrance too – for the many many million human beings – women, children and old folk – and even the earth itself –
those we used to call “enemies” before we killed them.
White is for Hope – white poppies were first made by the Cooperative
Women’s Guild in Britain in 1933, that never more would we or any other human being be victims of such political savagery but live together in peace.
That’s why today I wear two poppies – to remember.
When I was a young boy I would jump on my bicycle and follow the “old soldiers” marching each Anzac Day. Veterans from Gallipoli and the Somme. I knew the names but not the stories.
And when I asked what it all meant, they told me that the Anzacs had
fought for peace and freedom, for a war to end all wars ….
and then a couple of years later, there was war again, The next
generation was killing and being killed.
Now that I am older, I consider those whom the world calls ‘great human leaders’ those who set their people free have given dignity to the poor and the oppressed, the victims of political power.
Leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mandela and Tutu, the Dalai
Lama. These men of faith who had one thing in common – that change comes not with guns and bombs but in the spirit of justice, compassion, peace and non-violence.
So today we look at history again – lamenting the loss, facing the
truth – war solves nothing and repeating again the words on our own Paekākāariki Peace Pole
He maungarongo ki te whenua — Let peace prevail on earth.
Let us remember these truths in silence
Prayers were then offered beginning with the Anzac Day hymn
Honour the dead written by Kāpiti’s Shirley Murray.
Honour the dead, our country’s fighting brave,
honour our children left in foreign grave,
where poppies blow and sorrow seeds her flowers,
honour the crosses marked forever ours.
Weep for the places ravaged with our blood,
weep for the young bones buried in the mud,
weep for the powers of violence and greed,
weep for the deals done in the name of need.
Honour the brave whose conscience was their call,
answered no bugle, went against the wall,
suffered in prisons of contempt and shame,
branded as cowards, in our country’s name.
Weep for the waste of all that might have been,
weep for the cost that war has made obscene,
weep for the homes that ache with human pain,
weep that we ever sanction war again.
Honour the dream for which our nation bled,
held now in trust to justify the dead,
honour their vision on this solemn day:
peace known in freedom, peace the only way.