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May 1, 2017 | by  | in VUWSA | [ssba]

Presidential Address

Like many other New Zealanders, ANZAC Day last week was a chance for me to remember my family members who fought and some of whom lost their lives in World War One.

I attended the dawn service at Wellington’s cenotaph at Parliament alongside another exec member, and laid a wreath on behalf of VUWSA. At the top of my mind were the students, many of whom had barely opened their books before being marched down the hill to the wharf and sent off on a ship to war in 1914.

At the centre of ANZAC is doing exactly this — remembering the lives that were lost and sacrifices made. But in my opinion if we do this without also taking the opportunity to highlight the atrocities of war, question why New Zealand was there, and how we ensure this never happens again, we are not truly honouring those lost lives

This is why I was really pleased to see Peace Action Wellington at the ceremony last week. They did an extremely good job of participating in the wreath laying while also drawing some attention to the things mentioned above, including the civilian lives lost in the recent war in Afghanistan.

Many others at the ceremony, including organisers, were also supportive of the group, but the debate that ensued in the media and online about the protesters astounded me.

I cannot understand how so many people believe ANZAC day should neglect all of the important debate and discussion about war and violence. In my view, doing this does not minimise the respect paid to those who lost their lives — in fact, it strengthens it.

[ssba]

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