Anzac Day message 2014
RSA National President, Don McIver
In late 1914, Sgt Little, a clerk at the HQ of the newly formed Australia and New Zealand Army Corps in Egypt had a rubber stamp made which was used to register inwards and outwards mail and it became known as the “Anzac” stamp. From these humble beginnings grew the term which is so widely recognized, used and commemorated today.
What is this ANZAC Spirit of which we are so proud? Its values are described as courage, compassion, comradeship, commitment. Many see it as having its origins in the special characteristics of the New Zealand and Australian fighting man at Gallipoli - endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, larrikinism, and mateship. They say our soldiers were innocent and fit, stoical and laconic, irreverent in the face of authority, naturally egalitarian and disdainful of class differences. When they left they expected to be “Home for Christmas”. But the reality of the war they went to and of those other conflicts in which our small nation has since been involved cannot be set aside so lightly.
There is a great deal more to be remembered than just Gallipoli on this the 99th anniversary of Anzac Day. What few New Zealanders realise is that over the 114 years since 1899 when we sent soldiers to the South African War, more than a quarter of a million of our young men and women have been sent to overseas active military service. Overall, more than 30,000 New Zealand soldiers, sailors and airmen have lost their lives in these conflicts. That has been a terrible price for our small nation to have paid.
So for New Zealanders, Anzac Day is about remembering with pride all who gave their lives in conflict. It is about the rich human potential, which the country lost when we lost so many patriots. We have pride in what they achieved and deep sorrow at the cost of that achievement.
It is about remembering their families too who mourn the loss of their loved ones; and those communities large and small that have been impacted upon by their death in battle.
For those who served in the Armed Forces, it is about remembering those we served alongside and deep comradeship born of adversity; and it’s about having the depth of character which will allow us to show compassion for our adversaries too. And importantly it is about remembering the impact of these terrible events, across the generations, on the nation as a whole.
We will remember them.
Don McIver CMG OBE