Surrounded by crisp air and standing under a magnificent Oak Tree, I watched while night became day. As the light filtered through the dying leaves slowly things became clearer. Features on faces emerged, details of our surroundings more obvious. Several of the surviving high rise buildings appeared beyond the park. A father was standing with his arms around his teenage daughter, his son straining on tip toes to see the ceremony unfold before us. Another father, whose curly blond haired young daughter held tightly in his arms, played with the war medals that were pinned to his chest. She also had a war medal attached to her jacket. Presumably belonging to a relative no longer with us.
The back of a uniformed man standing to attention and then saluting during the National Anthem and Last Post. True respect. He turned around, his Royal New Zealand Air Force Uniform now showing as was his face. He looked like he has only just left school. 100 years ago he would have been at war. And probably would have been yet another senseless death, losing his life before he had lived it.
The leaves of the Oak Tree above were no longer mere silhouettes, their brown edges curling before eventually they would fall, leaving the tree barren. But after a passage of time there will be new growth and so the circle of life continues.
I am privileged to be standing under the mighty Oak, with tears in my eyes, witness to humanity coming together in remembrance of fallen heroes. Young men, as the one before me, standing up for something that is far bigger than them, beyond their understanding and for many, too many, the ultimate sacrifice. So that those here today can stand, live and love in peace
Let us not forget.
With wars still raging in our world, let us not forget.
With terror threats more real every day, let us not forget.
Let us learn from past mistakes, let us respect our neighbours and cultural differences, let us live our lives to the full with no fear.
We will not forget.