Sunday, May 03, 2009
The 25th of April 1915 marks the day that a combined Australian and NZ force landed at Gallipoli. It was a campaign that was to gouge a scar through the prime of a generation and forge an emergent sense of nationhood in both countries. The campaign was poorly conceived and even more poorly managed. By the end over 120,000 men had died: more than 80,000 Turkish soldiers and 44,000 British and French soldiers, including over 8500 Australians. Among the dead were 2721 young New Zealanders, about a quarter of those who had landed on the peninsula.
The loss of life on the Western Front for both nations was to prove more significant but it was Gallipoli that first brought the impact of the horror of modern warfare home to Australia and New Zealand. As early as 1916 there was a half day of holiday and dawn services remembering the lost. Since then it has become the day of remembrance for all those lost in conflicts from these islands.
Over recent years the numbers marching at dawn services has increased. Craig has wanted to go for a couple of years but we had not had the opportunity before this year. We went into Wellington to attend the dawn service at the cenotaph. Ailsa and Ben came too. (Luke was in Nelson with the youth group and Jamie at a sleepover at a friends).
I find the whole idea of Anzac Day and its place as one of the founding legends of the nation fascinating. I would like to write more about it but I do not really understand it yet!. It was interesting how few people joined in with the hymns and how many clapped when the veterans marched past. It is certainly hard to imagine such a diverse group of people gathering at dawn on Armistice Day in the UK. After the service we walked down to the dockside to watch a breath taking sunrise over the harbour. People sat or stood in small groups but there was some sense of being together, sharing and celebrating some heritage, identity or memory.
Luke got safely back from the Knox Youth Mission Trip to Nelson. They were able to do a mixture of running programmes at a kids camp, some practical service in the community and some fun. The highlights for Luke were helping with the activities at the camp and going on a tramp at the end. We have been really impressed with May and Holmes the two interns we have had this year and they did a huge amount to make the trip a success.
I am coaching all the boys this year. (a situation which is unlikely to happen again!). Luke and Jamie are both playing for the Wellington College Under 15 A team. We are playing in the P3 Grade which is a mixture of 1st XIs, 2nd X1s and us. Our first game was against Scots College 2nd XI. Some of their players were 18 and some of our guys looked small in comparison but we played well in the pouring rain to win 2-1.
Craig is playing for the Hutt P1 team. You may find it hard to spot him in the picture as has decided to try his hand as a goalie. We got off to a good start in our first match on Saturday with a 5-0 win over Upper Hutt. Craig only touched the ball once but it was a good quality save with his feet clearing well out to the side.
Craig's kit bag is just about bigger than he is but it is good having a goalkeeper who is not last when we are doing our running and he seems very keen and eager to learn. Ailsa decided that it was more emotionally taxing watching a child playing in goal.
One of the good things going into what will be my 4th season coaching in NZ is that there are now a number of families that I have had contact with over a few years. I already know, at least a little, most of the players in both teams. Both teams will train on a Monday with games being on Thursday for Luke and Jamie and Craig on Saturday mornings.
After a week of appalling weather the sun came out at the weekend. Wellington is a great city and we really enjoy living there.
The freedom, the beauty, the people. I guess that was what so many of those young men laid down their lives for through history. We inherit the legacy of their suffering and live their dream and that at least makes them worth not just remebering but celebrating.