At 11am tomorrow New Zealanders are urged to start a "roaring chorus' of celebration marking the end of the centenary of World War I. Two minutes of silence may be followed by bells ringing, sirens sounding, drums banging, cars tooting, loud music, "anything goes," says the official New Zealand WW100 website.

Historical accounts differ on whether any such celebration erupted at the end of the war. Probably the news brought different reactions in different communities and in the hearts of different people. But all would have been united in sheer relief. Until the final year of the war, it must have been hard to see an end to it.

For more than three dreadful years, Britain and her dominions had been sending their young men to face those of Germany and its allies in a muddy, bloody stalemate. It was not until the last few months, when the United States had come in, that the deadlock was broken. New Zealand, Australian and Canadian Divisions all had victories to celebrate as Germany was pushed back and finally accepted the armistice.

New Zealand marked one of its victories, at Le Quesnoy, last Sunday. It deserves to be better remembered but it remains to be seen whether a victory in that terrible war has the same resonance as Gallipoli and other brave failures. Today it seems well worth celebrating the end of the war.


The centenary has done it justice. So let's start a roaring chorus that may continue as clocks around the world pass 11am. Toot, shout, sing, cheer. For the fact that it finished.