In which Miles observes an interesting display of flags, and ponders the commemoration of Anzac Day.
Anzac Day is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand that is observed on the 25th of April each year in remembrance of all Australians and New Zealanders who died in wars and other conflicts. The original purpose of Anzac Day was to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Anzac day is also observed in Canada, the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, and Tonga, and was previously observed in Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
I was driving when I spotted this Anzac Day display beside highway 12 near the mouth of the Hokianga Harbor. I was attracted by the sight of the 4 flags being flown side by side; the Australia and New Zealand flags as well as the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Maori national flag.
Some local women were discussing how fortunate their family had been; family members had returned from both world wars. I think they mentioned one or more other wars that family members had survived. This monument and display commemorates other members of the community who were not so lucky.
In the days before Anzac Day 2015 I was aware of conversations among kiwis about differences in the way the day is observed in Australia and New Zealand. One kiwi felt that New Zealanders observed Anzac Day by attending dawn services, then having a quiet and solemn day. He felt that Anzac Day, in New Zealand, is seen as a reminder that war is something to avoid if possible. He said that in Australia, Aussies spend the day in the pub getting drunk and gambling to games of two-up, and celebrating war and Australian past and future victories. I placed some bets on games of two-up in a packed pub in The Rocks, near the Opera House in Sydney, while getting drunk with the Australians on Anzac Day about 8 years ago. I also read a post about the feelings of an Australian on Anzac Day; he observed that the day was becoming less solemn and more jingoistic, which he expressed by saying that it was becoming more American. There are certainly some differences in the way the day is observed in Australia and New Zealand, but it also seems certain that some of the complaints come down to the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, and to something like the (not-inaccurate) annual complaints about the increasing commercialization of Christmas. Of course it is also certainly true that most cultures could celebrate war a lot less.