Although Anzac Day commemorates the landing at Gallipoli, it also honours all those who have fallen in conflicts before and after. It is a time to reflect not only on the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for their country, but also to think of the families who lost loved ones.
It is a day when New Zealanders and Australians stand together and do our best to comprehend the bravery of those who fought and died.
For the New Zealand Defence Force, Anzac Day is the day where we can come together and understand why we do what we do. So we are proud when we see other New Zealanders showing their support for us, and gaining a better understanding of the sacrifices we can be called upon to make.
When I joined the Army many years ago, someone asked why I joined. I answered "so I can serve my country". Eighteen years later I can honestly say that answer hasn't changed. There are probably 20 other accurate answers I could also give, but that one remains the same. I am proud to serve my country.
The men and women of the Defence Force sacrifice a lot to serve our country. They move around regularly, they risk their lives on operations, they leave their families for months at a time, they must always meet the highest standards of professionalism and they deal with hardships that many New Zealanders will never understand.
This is not done simply for a salary. We serve because we are proud to serve. We are proud to be the ones to endure the hardships. We have accepted the challenge to do what many cannot.
And it is not just those in uniform. The most important people to have supporting you are your family and friends back home. They are your base. They help you through the hard times when you are overseas and when you return.
On my last tour in Afghanistan I would often think about the stories I would usually be reading my kids before bed or of their rugby games I was missing in the weekends. I took to recording Roald Dahl stories on a USB stick and sending them back to my kids so they could hear me read to them at night. That made it a little easier for them and it was great to get replies as they read from their school books back to me.
Everyone does it hard when they are deployed, but those left at home do it just as hard, and often harder. My wife deserves all the medals I have earned and more.
Apart from family the support from others we receive from back home when deployed is also really heartening. Having served on four different operational tours I have seen many care packages and letters sent by school kids, the Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association and individuals who have taken the time to send us messages of support.
I spent Anzac Day last year in Kabul, Afghanistan. The New Zealand and Australian contingents serving there got together and delivered what was a pretty sobering service. It made us proud to be doing what we were doing alongside our Australian counterparts. It was great to see the camaraderie of old had not gone away, and had strengthened over the preceding 99 years.
I hope that those serving with the Aussies and other nations in all our deployments and sharing their Anzac Day have strengthened those ties even further this year.