Editorial: Clear and present patriotism

By Roger Moroney

"Thirty years ago you'd have been lucky to have got a hundred people along here," one chap said as the several thousand who turned out for the Napier Dawn Service began to quietly disperse.

"And there wouldn't have been any kids," his mate chipped in.

Yesterday you could have counted the kids alone in the hundreds.

One of those teenagers became instantly memorable for me as upon the back of his cap (which was facing forwards of course) was a poppy.

In a classic case of never judge a book by its cover, they did not look like the type who would roll out of bed at 5.30am to head to town to see the Dawn Parade.

But there they stood respectfully and later, as the dwindling band of veterans marched off parade, joined in the applause to them.

Those young people I heard speak at the services did so with dignity, emotion and clear and present patriotism.

But not all kids see it that way.

For at the 11am Civic Service, as a representative of the Royal New Zealand Air Force was delivering a thoughtful address about the sacrifices of the 1700 Kiwi airmen of Bomber Command during WW2, the sound of an absurdly unmuffled car could be heard droning closer.

Within a couple of minutes another lowered and badly silenced heap of teenage testosterone growled away from the nearby lights.

They would have been 19, maybe 20? The same age as men half a world away from their homes in wars past, wondering if the next bullet or shell fragment had their name on it. If you lads want to be really staunch and strong then step up to the manly plate next year - come to the Dawn Service.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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