Anzac Day torch passing to the young

By Don Farmer don.farmer@age.co.nz -
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Destiny Tom of Wairarapa College, who was guest speaker at Masterton's Anzac Day dawn service today. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE
Destiny Tom of Wairarapa College, who was guest speaker at Masterton's Anzac Day dawn service today. PHOTO/NATHAN CROMBIE

The spirit of Anzac Day shall never die in Wairarapa while young people like Wairarapa College student Destiny Tom carry the torch for the next generation.

Destiny, 16, was guest speaker at today's dawn service at the cenotaph in Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton, and painted a mental picture of how a century ago a boy the age she is now lied about his age and went excitedly off to war as his parents, "with pride on their faces and tears in their eyes", watched him go.

She surmised that the men and women who went off to war, boarding ships that would take them halfway round the world, would not have had an inkling that a century later they would be honoured with a special day dedicated to them.

After speaking the ode, Destiny told of what Anzac Day meant to her. It was not just a day when "kids learn to colour in poppies" or an excuse to make Anzac biscuits in a school cooking class.

"To me, it means a lot more than that. It symbolises the days our Anzacs had given up, just to fight for us. It symbolises what it means to be a Kiwi," she said.

Destiny told those gathered at the service how as a little girl she went to Anzac services in Gisborne with her parents, and would watch wide-eyed as elderly men walked by with medals attached to their blazers.

"I remember hearing the haunting sound of the Last Post and watching as my primary school raised the flag to half-mast. As a 5-year-old I was proud to be a New Zealander, yet not able to grasp the full concept of why we honoured this day. It wasn't until I was much older and had started college that I began to learn the importance of celebrating and remembering our Anzac soldiers," she said.

Destiny told of her research into the life of one Anzac -- Ted Lefort, of Martinborough, who survived the Great War.

"Ted spent four years and 247 days in the army, surviving the Gallipoli campaign, and went on to fight in other campaigns, fighting until the war ended.

"He was lucky enough to go on and get married to the woman of his dreams and to have two children. That was a life soldiers who lost their lives fighting for us in Gallipoli missed out on, soldiers who never returned -- were left behind," she said.

Referring to the links between Australia and New Zealand, Destiny said that each year "we fight Australians". "We fight them in league matches and rugby games, healthy but competitive competition. It shows the brotherhood we share that will never be lost, a rivalry both nations enjoy, but when it comes to fighting on the battlefield, such as in World War II and in Vietnam, we are as one."

Destiny said the Anzacs would forever be a big part of New Zealand's history. "They will forever be a big part of our hearts, for this day will never be lost. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."

Destiny was asked to be guest speaker at the dawn service following her success in speech competitions.

Masterton Returned Services Association president Bob Hill said Destiny and other young people like her held the future of Anzac Day commemorations in their hands.

"I want young people to be the focus of Anzac Day for the tenure of my presidency," he said.

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