Generations brought together for Anzac Day

Avondale College student Ashleigh Tait is 16. She writes about why Anzac Day holds a special significance to many young people.

As a child, I remember my grandparents taking me to the Anzac Day dawn service at Waikumete Cemetery, where my great-grandfather who fought in World War II is buried. Although I never met him, it has become apparent to me that he has, and forever will, play a large part in my family. For me, this is the importance of Anzac Day. Although it's a chance for us as a nation to come together and commemorate, it's also a chance for all of us, young and old, to remember family members who fought in wars.

A friend says the day is important to her because it honours the memory of her granddad, who she too never met. Although we as a younger generation may have never had the chance to meet our older relations who fought in wars, we must remember they were fighting for us and that Anzac Day is the one chance each year to ensure they are not forgotten.

Anzac Day is also an opportunity to gather with those closest to us. Friends have told me their favourite thing about Anzac Day is being with their families at parades and services. It is a day which reminds us that although sometimes life may seem hard, we should make the most of it. It teaches us to be grateful for what we have and not to take it for granted.

"It makes you look at the acts of bravery by those soldiers and then look at us today with our minor problems and realise how easy we have it, thanks to the men who fought in the war," one of my friends told me.

Avondale College student Enya Mae McPherson was born on April 25. She remembers attending Anzac services with her family and how she had always admired the flagbearers. Upon becoming a member of 3 Squadron Air Training Corps in 2009, her most memorable Anzac Day to date was 2011, where she raised the Navy's ensign at the dawn and 10am services at the Auckland Museum. This year, Enya will be on a school trip in Japan on Anzac Day; she is putting together and laying a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. "I feel wherever we are in the world, we need to acknowledge, respect and honour the soldiers who fought for our country and brought us freedom from war," she told me.

Growing up in New Zealand, we are taught the two world wars played a large part in our past, and how Anzac Day is for us to commemorate and remember those who died in battle. But as we get older, we realise its real significance. We learn how important it is for us as a nation to come together, in order to honour those who fought for our country and our freedom. We respect that if they didn't, our lives may not be as they are today.

Anzac Day is the one chance we are given to not just thank them, but to appreciate all that we have and appreciate life in New Zealand.

Lorna Johnston

Lorna Johnston, of Kohimaramara, is 96. She has a significant personal story that means Anzac Day is very important to her.

Held as a prisoner of war for three years from 1942 and taken from the island of Rabaul (now part of Papua New Guinea) to Yokohama, Japan, Lorna is the only survivor of a group of 76 Australian POW nurses in the region at the time. In December, The Aucklander told her remarkable story in which she recounted that while her group was imprisoned, they were forced to knit silk bags and make envelopes. After a year, food ran out and they were forced to scavenge whatever they could.

Among Lorna's vivid memories is the fire-bombing of Tokyo, which killed 100,000 people in March 1945.

Late last year, the 96-year-old was flown to Japan to receive a face-to-face apology from the Japanese Government for the way she and other nurses were treated during World War II. ("Lorna Johnston's Japanese apology," The Aucklander, December 15).

Lorna says it delights her that young people understand Anzac Day's significance.

"Each year on Anzac Day, at Orakei RSA,I remember New Guinea 1941. It was a group of very young, fun loving people - doctors, patients, medical orderlies and nurses - all doing their duty. A few months into 1942, 90 per cent had been brutally killed. Each yearI send them peace, love and remember them... and may they never be forgotten.

"I always feel grateful when I see so many young people attending Anzac Day services.It shows they understand the meaning of the day ... it's really a special day of remembrance."

- The Aucklander

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