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50 MONTHS AGO
Thanks to all of our wonderful new donors including Nidhish Bhandari,Evan Woodruffe,Sarah Franich and anonymous! We are almost at 40% with 8 days to go. By sharing this campaign and encouarging 1 or 2 people to match your donation we will be at our target in no time!Thanks again-you are all OUTSTANDING! Now for a poignant reflection from John Walsh.....
As a post WW2 kid growing up in Tolaga Bay, a village of 1000 people on the
East Coast of New Zealand's North Island, war took up a lot of our
imaginings. Mostly fantasy through comics and war games - Achtung! Tat tat
tat. You're dead - no you are. Tolaga had an open refuge tip down by the
river mouth, filling in the remains of the huge swamp the town was built on.
An unbelievably stupid engineering decision but it was an irresistible
hunting ground. One day I came across someone's clean out, a pile of old
cloths, papers and odds and ends. Amongst it I found two well worn notebook
sized drawing books that were full of the most amazing drawings I had seen.
I was 11 - 12 and a good drawer but for the first time I was holding art
magic. These were field drawings of operations this soldier had been
involved in, very personal accounts of actions, details of machinery, enemy
tanks, planes. Little explanatory notes here and there. Wounded friends,
prisoners... This was beyond comics. I took them home like a thief and
poured over them. They were my benchmark for many years, this work of a
soldier who in this small town I probably knew. He had died young, his
memories and talent discarded to the tip by a family who for whatever
reasons couldn't treasure it, to leach into the bay with all our foulness. I
was inspired and haunted by this guy and was devastated when I discovered my
family had discarded them in one of their clean ups
I took more interest in ANZAC day when my dad transformed from his Jack of
all trades persona to this tall, elegant and considered dark suited gent
bejewelled with layers heavy medals and colourful ribbons. We kids would tag
along to the Dawn Ceremony, starting at the RSA rooms where perhaps 50
veterans from both wars assembled. We knew them all and were transfixed as
they shuffled solemnly to order then marched to the memorial gated at the
entrance to the golf course. We were put in the same space by Malcolm
Gibson's bugling of the Last Post and as formalities mumbled along I would
read over the names of the fallen engraved on the pillars of the gates. The
many branches of family and friends
Many years later Louise and I spent a couple of days at Gallipoli and at the
end of the tour we were able to dive over ANZAC cove. The airy remains of
landing craft, tanks and unbelievable slaughter came to life. We gathered a
few cartridges, some still with the cordite charge still in them. I
eventually took them home and presented them to my father. He picked one up
and briefly turned it in his fingers then put it down looked outside and
said something about his garden. A very sobering bit of non communication.
How could our poncing around the world hope to connect with his experience.
He never had much to say about it. There was a void as big as the tip and
the engineering disaster that created it that neither of us could bridge.
Now, living in Wellington, one of my favourite dog walks is to the Ataturk
Memorial above the harbour entrance where every time I am compelled to read
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's speech engraved there. It is read every ANZAC day at
the National War Memorial by the Turkish Ambassador. It reads:
Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in
the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no
difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by
sidein this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from far
away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosoms
and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they become our
sons as well.
Gets me every time