Each year Anzac Day is imbued with new meaning.

This year our thoughts and prayers will be directed to the 50 Muslim worshipers - especially their surviving family members and friends - who were killed in Christchurch by a cowardly act of terrorism on Friday, March 15.

Young people also keep Anzac Day alive and relevant. Fifteen-year-old NPGH student Hannah-Leigh Collinson wrote a song after the Christchurch mosque attacks and she performed it in the Hokonui studio.

The song, called Red, was written to honour our Muslim brothers and sisters. It's simple evocative message is a powerful reminder, that irrespective of our culture, ethnicity and religion we are all equal, and our blood is red. Paradoxically that is most evident when we bleed.

New Zealanders have tended to be understandably partisan, and even a bit myopic, when it comes to remembering Anzac Day.


We invariably highlight our losses and the trauma World War I had upon us, along with the scaring ramifications.

There were 18,000 New Zealanders killed in World War I with 2721 fatalities at Gallipoli.

According to local historian David Walter, 32 soldiers from the Stratford district were killed at Gallipoli and 151 were killed in other World War I battles.

No wonder our district has seven cenotaphs and the unique, very large and impressive, Colonel Malone Gates outside of King Edward Park.

However, we often forget that the Allies - which NZ was a part of - on April 25, 1915 invaded the Ottoman Empire—their homeland (modern Turkey), and their losses at Gallipoli were horrendous: 250,000 Turkish and Arabs troops were killed or wounded, and they were Muslims.

This Anzac Day, rather than worry about the reactive and unsettling comments of Turkish president Erdogan, let's recall with affection and solemnity, the tender and forgiving words made by the founder of modern Turkey, General Ataturk, who also fought in World War I.

"You, the mothers who sent your sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now living in our bosom, and are in peace. After having lost their lives in this land they have become our sons as well." This quote comes from his open letter to grieving mothers.

Let's try and make this year's Anzac Day extra special and extra inclusive.


Let's remember the "unfamiliar others" who also suffered at Gallipoli.

The fallen, who didn't speak English and who were not Christians, but who were in fact, our brothers and sisters — fellow humans, who like us, have red blood.