Today is ANZAC day, the day we remember New Zealanders who have fought and died fighting overseas "protecting our freedom". Well, most of the time, especially in the First World War, it is hard to know what they fought for. It is commentated on the day the ANZAC and other forces landed in Gallipoli to distract the Turkish forces and allow the Anglo French fleet to take the Dardanelles and attack Constantinople. April 25 1915.

I have just finished watching the dawn service at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli, Turkey. The ANZAC spirit was born there, Australia – New Zealand (although listening to the Australian defence minister it seems it was really all about Australia). We were reminded of how poorly thought out, poorly planned and poorly led the whole expedition was. The story of the whole war really, incompetent British generals wastefully sacrificing the lives of there men, especially their colonial soldiers in poorly thought out, poorly planned and poorly executed battles that mostly achieved little except for the massive loss of life.

So what do we remember and commemorate? We remember all those who have fought in our army. We remember their courage. We remember their dedication. We remember with pride how well they fought, and how well they continue to fight. But we must also remember the stupidity of many of the conflicts New Zealanders have fought in, and to work endlessly to avoid war as much as possible. We must strive for peace, the peace that only comes through justice. The war to end all war did not end war, but through the greedy actions of the allied leaders of the time led directly to the next world war. To honour our dead, we must strive to avoid war and loss of further life.

Yesterday marked the beginning of another shameful story, the Armenian Genocide. It is said to have officially began on 24 April 1915, but there had been along lead up to it. While Australian and New Zealand officials noted the warmth of our relationships with Turkey, we carefully avoid looking too closely at how the lauded Attaturk devised a genocide against the Christian Armenian people. Turkey and Israel dispute that it was genocide; despite the word genocide being coined by a Jewish scholar in the 1930’s to describe what happened to the Armenian people. Over one and a half million people were killed, and countless others simply disappeared, woman and girls taken by tribesman from the forced marches, never to be heard from again. It was marked by Armenians in what they call Genocide day.

These two events are linked not only by the date; both began 93 years ago, but it seems to me, if we are to honour our dead, it is exactly these kinds of events that we need to work at to prevent happening again. Sadly, too often, we in the West, especially our leaders and our media are too quick to vilify the other, and we exacerbate the situation rather than help bring peace.


Tim Mathis said…
Hi John,

Yesterday in a discount grocery store in Seattle I saw American produced Anzac biscuits with proceeds going to the American Veterans of Foreign War association. I don't quite know what to do with that...