"We have a lot more to remember than you people will ever have." A World War II veteran, speaking on radio last Tuesday.
Understand that and you'll understand why some old soldiers won't go to Anzac Day services and why so many of the rest of us do. There's nothing in peace but love that can match the intensity of war.
Even our battles are trivial by comparison. And some are strange as well.
Consider, if you wish, Field Marshal Brash's surprise attack upon the thinly defended ramparts of his mortal and sworn ... umm, allies.
This is not the norm in times of war. Generally speaking, generals generally pounce upon their enemies.
It's long been the convention that you should ambush your foes, not your friends. Giving the chap in the trench beside you a biff on the jaw isn't the best way to launch a big offensive.
Unless you want to be offensive. Which has never seemed a prerequisite for Don. Clever as a cartload of calculators, for sure, but always courteous.
Fierce of thought and mild of manner, you could say.
But suddenly, he's become a slugger, a battler, blitzkrieg Brash, the economist's answer to Hone Harawira. Although, to be fair, in Hone's case, at least he was in the party he wanted to lead.
Until Don enlists, which he hadn't done by yesterday morning, we won't know if he's got "a Blighty one" or a blighted win.
All of which begs a larger question. Whether his political union is an arranged or a deranged marriage will depend largely on your point of view - and whether you've got other more important things to ponder. Which most of us do.
Today of all days, the great majority will happily forget the unceremonious ceremonies of Act to focus on a much more decorous act of ceremony.
Yes! 'Tis Will and Kate's wedding that preoccupies us. And for damn good reasons, let's be clear.
Love will always trump ambition, and it should. Love is the essence of us.
It makes the whirled go round. Love is the perfect excuse for a wedding.
So most of us hope it is the perfect excuse for this wedding. We want affairs of state to be affairs of the heart as well.
We've all been touched, no, shaped, by love. We know it transforms. We know there is no better way to fill a wakened moment.
Love is as close as we come to the heart of our mystery and the mysteries of our hearts. Shakespeare got it right. Mind you, he got everything right, blast his eyes. Said it first, said it better, made the rest of us redundant, the rotter.
"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind."
That's one of his. So this - as good a measure of the merits of love, albeit lost, as ever you'll find. "Absence from those we love is self from self - a deadly banishment."
Indeed it is, alas. So we hope they love each other and will never be absent from the liberation love allows. As we should.
That said, "we" is a tad presumptuous. Most of us may hope such hopes. But some of us won't.
Sad souls seduced by the soft science of sociology will conclude, when aisle's said and done, that it's all just the dreaded establishment at work, diverting the masses with pomp and circumstance to maintain their grip on the lumpen proletariat.
Well, good luck to them. Cynics are just romantics who couldn't get it right, when all's said and done, so we mustn't begrudge them their insulation.
They'll see the whole spectacle through a glass bleakly because it comforts them to do so. In the end, we all use events like this to confirm our core consolations and view of the world.
If we rush to negative judgment, it's because we need to. But, take heart, all ye of lover's faith, if we jump to a joyful conclusion, it's because we choose to.
So go forth, without skerrick of shame or hint of self-censure. Wallow as you will. Better a wedding than a wake - if only because no one cares what they wear to a wake.
But the whole world seems to care what they'll wear at the Abbey. It may not matter to those of us whose tailor of choice is St Vincent de Paul, but there is perfervid interest in J.K.'s greenstoned suit and what frock Bronagh will wear, not to mention that most quintessential of costumes, Kate's gown.
Journalists have talked themselves clothes hoarse about her overwear. 'Tis the only gown in town, forsooth.
On the pavements of Parnell, and in the spas of Remuera, they speak of little else. "Don who?" the mavens murmur. "Is he a best man? What's he wearing?"
Sackcloth and ashes, perchance, or the victor's laurels, or very possibly both.
But until we've seen what Kate is wearing, no one gives a toss. We don't need four weddings and a funeral today. One wedding is quite sufficient.