Editorial: Allow us to mark the day in peace

By Keri Welham

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Anzac Day is about remembrance but it means different things in different households.

Most will tomorrow take pause to remember the sacrifice of lives lost, not only in the Battle of Gallipoli which began on April 25, 1915, but in all wars and conflicts in which New Zealanders have served.

Some may stop to consider the role of conflict in modern politics or to bemoan what they believe is the glorification of war.

Others, like Sammie Tapara, will have memorials of their own.

Lance Corporal Sammie Tapara is a servicewoman and all of the armed forces mark Anzac Day with particular reverence. They remember fallen comrades and acknowledge that their own roles may take them into harm's way as well.

But for Ms Tapara, Anzac Day is painfully close to the anniversary of her partner's death two years ago.

Private Te Tahuna Daniel Tahapeehi died the day after Anzac Day in 2010, at the end of a horrific 24 hours for New Zealand's military. Three Air Force personnel were killed on Sunday April 25, 2010, when their helicopter crashed north of Wellington while heading to Anzac Day ceremonies in the capital.

Mr Tahapeehi, 21, died in a motorcycle accident outside Linton Military Base the next morning.

He did not die on duty, but on a morning when the New Zealand Defence Force was already aching after the tragedy of the previous day.

This week Ms Tapara and the couple's son Arikirau are coping with a fresh wound.

Mr Tahapeehi's beloved dog Girl was hit by a car in Greerton Rd and had to be put down. Girl's ashes will be buried alongside her master.

I spent last Anzac Day at Tauranga Hospital with a close relative who had had a heart attack that morning. This Anzac Day we'll be remembering that morning and celebrating a new him - lighter, fitter, and more grateful than ever.

I hope this year the activists who consider Anzac Day a laboured tradition built on killing, will allow others to mark the day in peace. They have the freedom to protest - a freedom defended by generations of servicemen and women - and they've made their points in other years, in offensive ways which did little to engender the support of the masses to their cause.

Remembrance comes in many forms and means something different to every person standing head bowed before a cenotaph, every person laying flowers at a cemetery, every family picnicking in a park to commemorate a family member they lost in war.

Anzac Day may not be everyone's idea of a day to remember, but activists should not rob others of the opportunity to mark it in peace.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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