We Will Remember Them
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember the fallen.
The final daily Last Post, of First World War centenary was performed last night at the Sunset Ceremony, to mark the centenary of the Armistice, which ended the First World War.
In a moving tribute to all those affected by the war, the Sunset Ceremony was the final ceremony of the centenary.
NZDF personnel supported community events around the country yesterday on Armistice Day, including at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and in the north Otago community of Maheno, where a memorial plaque was unveiled in recognition of the role of Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship (HMHS) Maheno supporting Anzac troops during the First World War.
Wellington was the home of the Armistice Day National Ceremony and turned on the weather as thousands turning out to events throughout the day.
Armistice Day 2018 began at 5.45am with the dressing of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior with his medals and the Remembrance Wreath, which was the only official wreath laid during the national Armistice commemorations in Wellington.
At 10.50am, in an impressive display that was watched by thousands of people lining Wellington’s waterfront, 16th Field Regiment, Royal Regiment of the New Zealand Artillery, fired a 100-gun salute. The guns fell silent at 11am, as they did 100 years ago.
The gun salute led into the National Ceremony, at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, which included a performance of the centenary commission, He Wawa Waraki: Roaring Chorus 2018.
At the national commemoration, Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy spoke about the relief among soldiers when news of the Armistice spread, and also about the dreadful reality of the war which left thousands with physical and physiological wounded and so many dead.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about the reality of the horrors of industrial modern warfare, which had such a huge impact on Aotearoa in the four years of the war.
She also recalled the roaring chorus, an eruption of joy, with `tin can bands’ of people running out on the streets, when news of the end of the war reached ordinary New Zealanders.
The roaring chorus was replicated around New Zealand including with Navy ships Wellington, Te Mana and Canterbury sounding their horns, as did ferries and Police vessels while church bells rang and many others banged saucepan lids as they did on the day 100 years ago.
Around 18,000 New Zealanders died during the Great War and another 41,000 were wounded, out of a population of one million.
At 1930, the NZDF Sunset Ceremony, held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, reflected on the First World War centenary through music and ceremony, paying tribute to all those affected by the war. The ceremony featured the RNZAF band and personnel carrying the NZDF’s 21 Queen’s and Regimental colours, guidon, banners and standards, and ended with the NZDF haka.
Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short reflected on the common link between those who had served before and those who serve today.
After Armistice, it would be several months before the New Zealand soldiers returned home, he said in his speech at the Sunset Ceremony.
``When they did return we know they carried a heavy burden from their experience. There were physical injuries and of course there were those with what was known as shell shock, what we might call today post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
The impact of war on today’s service people was much the same, of carrying the burden of their experiences, he said.
``Our nation asks ordinary people to do an extraordinary thing, to serve and to fight a long way from home. Some will not come home alive, for those that do there can be real challenges reintegrating and coming to terms with their experiences.’’
We should remember those in uniform today who draw inspiration from those who served before, he said.
During the centenary, NZDF has led the planning and delivery of seven overseas First World War military commemorations, following in the footsteps of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
The Sunset Ceremony brought together elements of all seven of the overseas commemorations, and included stunning imagery from all seven commemorations, displayed on screens in the park.
It included the final Daily Last Post Ceremony of the First World War centenary, which for the only time included the playing of the rouse, symbolising that mourning is over and normal life can continue.
We Will Remember Them.