Today is 25 April - Anzac Day, a day in which New Zealanders remember those who have fallen for their country and acknowledge those who have served.
The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. A battle that was fought and not won. A battle that helped NZ define itself as a nation as the soldiers fought for the British Empire on the other side of the world. Nearly a third of all New Zealanders taking part in the campaign, that was finally abandoned after nine months, were killed. Communities back home in our tiny country were devastated by the loss of some many young men.
It is a public holiday today. Shops are shut until 1pm. People attend dawn parades and memorial services. We wear a red poppy which is a symbol of war remembrance the world over.
The red or Flanders poppy has been linked with battlefield deaths since the time of the Great War (1914–18). The plant was one of the first to grow and bloom in the mud and soil of Flanders. The connection was made, most famously, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in his poem 'In Flanders fields'.
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.