A nation will remember our huge sacrifice in World War I when the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day is marked in New Zealand today.

More than 16,000 New Zealanders died in the four years of fighting between 1914-18. A further 41,000 suffered wounds in battlefields whose names are now etched into our national psyche.

Sons, brothers, fathers, daughters, sisters and mums gave their lives for our country in the Great War — a conflict which at the time was cited as "the war to end all wars".

History — and no lack of bloodshed in later years — showed that term was idealistic.


The horror that awaited our brave men and women at the likes of Gallipoli and on the Western Front in Europe was at the furthest of their minds when they left our shores for war. For many, what awaited was an adventure — the war would be over in months and they would return home safe but with tales of travel to share with loved ones.

Every year since the end of World War I is a further step away from the reality of what our armed forces and nurses encountered. But what is pleasing is to see the increased interest in not only their sacrifices, but what others faced in war zones in years to come.

That is evidenced in the wide age-range of attendees at annual Anzac Day memorials — and will again be on show today.

And increasingly, Kiwis of all ages are learning more about places such as Passchendaele and Le Quesnoy. No longer is our World War I history restricted to being dominated by the failed Gallipoli campaign.

The Herald has also lead the way in commemorating our World War I deeds — for the past two weeks revisiting some of the most famous battles we fought in. Today the Herald on Sunday profiles some of our Kiwi medics — a group who for too long were unsung heroes.

Most memorials to the casualties of war are solemn occasions — and for good reason.

For much of the many ceremonies around New Zealand that will again be the case today.

But in an unusual departure from tradition, a "Roaring Chorus" will follow the formalities this morning.

At 11.02am, church bells will ring and emergency services and ferries and other boats in our waterways and harbours will sound their sirens and horns.

Attendees at services — including at the Auckland War Memorial Museum — have been encouraged to bring pots, bans, bells, whistles, hooters and horns to join in the cacophony of noise.

The "Roaring Chorus" has been designed to be a "big jubilant celebration of peace".

The initiative may not be everyone's way of remembering both those who both served our country in World War I, and of course those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But what is important today is we do remember them and their service for our country.

• Last week's editorial stated that a poor upbringing can lead to a range of problems for young people including autism and dyslexia. This was a sub-editing error and does not reflect the views of this newspaper. The Herald on Sunday accepts upbringing has no relevance to these learning issues and apologises to those affected for any distress the error caused.