During the civil ceremony for Anzac Day in Stratford, Sam Witeri and Ashleigh Stanners, the head boy and head girl of Stratford High School were invited to speak.
The Stratford Press is publishing the speech by head girl Ashleigh Stanners this week. Sam Witeri's speech was printed in last week's paper.
Today we don't say goodbye to, but rather remember and appreciate those who returned, and those who did not.
We meet here today, not to glorify and romanticise war nor praise victors, but to remember those who have served our country during times of conflict and crisis, and to reflect upon their selfless sacrifice.
Time dims the memory of ordinary events, but not great events.
In a nation's history, great events - whether in peace or war - live in our memories regardless of time. They are deemed great, not necessarily for what they achieved, nor for whether they were victories or successes. They are great because of their sacrifice, gallantry, bravery, their courage, passion and fierce loyalty for their country. Our country.
I start this speech with a poem written by William Noel Hodgson, called Before Action. Mr Hodgson was a soldier in the First World War in 1914.
"By all the glories of the day, And the cool evening's benison, By that last sunset touch that lay, Upon the hills when day was done, By beauty lavishly outpoured, And blessings carelessly received, By all the days that I have lived, Make me a soldier, Lord. By all of man's hopes and fears, And all the wonders poets sing, The laughter of unclouded years, And every sad and lovely thing; By the romantic ages stored With high endeavour that was his, By all his mad catastrophes Make me a man, O Lord. I, that on my unfamiliar hill Saw with uncomprehending eyes A hundred of thy sunsets spill Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice, Ere the sun swings his noonday sword Must say good-bye to all of this;- By all delights that I shall miss, Help me to die, O Lord."
Mr Hodgson was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, two days after he wrote Before Action.
This poem is about a soldier in his preparation for war, carrying a nervous and anxious tone. See for those who are brave, other emotions are intertwined, with bravery and courage comes anxiety and fear which show not how weak someone is, but how strong they are to overcome these feelings for not themselves but the service of others.
How strong they are to sacrifice everything and face a situation which they know may be fatal, for those of their country, for those they do not know but serve to protect.
These values are more important than ever to our lives.
But we seem to have lost sight of what is true bravery, true courage, true unity. And now more than ever we need to carry these values with us in our daily actions.
Be kind to others, smile as you walk past.
Simple things can carry such a strong impact for those that seem fine on the surface and are struggling underneath.
With the bravery and courage to face each day, the unknown, whilst treating those you meet who are different to you with respect allows us to be unified, we become stronger and more supportive together which is most important following recent circumstances, not only in New Zealand with the gut wrenching attack in Christchurch, but the many attacks on people around the world, all because they are different.
Though we are different, we must stand together, with respect and love, whilst honouring those who have passed and carrying their legacy, their name on for them forever. The living owes it to those who can no longer speak to continue their story on.
So, I implore you, be brave, courageous, respectful, gallant and kind. Be the people that our soldiers fought for, because in war no soldier is unwounded.
For those who left never to return, and for those who return but are never the same, we remember.