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Never Forget The Ultimate Price: Why We Wear The Poppy

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Anzac Day red poppies in a field

Anzac Day in New Zealand is a National Day of Remembrance to honour the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us.

In December 1914, in preparation for the invasion of Gallipoli, New Zealand Expeditionary Force contingents were grouped together with the Australian Imperial Force for the first time as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – ANZAC.

From then on, combined Australian and New Zealand forces became known as “ANZACs”.

The Gallipoli campaign

On 25 April 1915 the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli, at a place later called Anzac Cove. Together, they provided almost half of the total number of troops in the Allied Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Immediately upon landing, the ANZACs suffered heavy casualties as a result of a navigational error which found them two kilometres from their intended landing point.

In addition, for eight months, New Zealand troops, alongside those from Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, France, India, and Newfoundland endured harsh conditions and battled Ottoman forces fighting to protect their homeland. By the time the campaign ended, 2779 New Zealanders had died, about a sixth of all Kiwis who had landed on the peninsula.

Of course, the ultimate cost paid should not be forgotten. As tribute to the fallen and to those who remained, April 25th became a day to recognise, honour and remember.

Anzac Day – Our National Day of Remembrance

The 25 April date became a National Day of Remembrance. Every year, New Zealanders and Australians around the world gather to remember and honour the service and sacrifice of those who have gone before us.

Hence the first Anzac Day was marked in 1916, only one year after the landing itself, and continues to this day.

‘The Ode’ (For the Fallen) by Laurence Binyon

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

We will remember them.

Red poppy – a symbol of remembrance

In the churned up ground of the Flanders battlefields in Belgium, fields of red poppies bloomed in the spring of 1915. This sight inspired the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Canadian officer John McCrae who was a soldier, physician and poet – and resulted in the red poppy becoming an symbol of remembrance.

Currently, the tradition continues with the poppy now representing the sacrifice made by New Zealanders in all conflicts since World War One.

Lest we forget.

‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Read More About Anzac Day

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