|An ANZAC poppy|
Many of you, our dear readers, will probably be unaware that last Wednesday (25th of April), we in New Zealand commemorated one of the most important days in the history of our country. This is known as ANZAC Day and it is our way of remembering all those who have sacrificed their lives fighting for peace and freedom for our country. It marks the day that Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed at Gallipoli during World War I, where many of them lost their lives.
Well, I’m not going to go into all the history of that event (you can visit the New Zealand history website at http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/anzacday if you are interested), so I thought I’d just share a short story I wrote when I was about 13 in order to commemorate this event, which is so important to me and others throughout New Zealand and Australia. I haven’t had time to edit it so apologies for any errors or historical inaccuracies!
A Story of the ANZACs and Our Nation
A little old lady sits perched on her chair, head gently falling on to her chest as she gradually falls asleep. The radio blares on, droning out news items which are of no interest to her “ . . . and three Victoria Crosses have been stolen . . .” Suddenly the old lady is wide awake, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. She recalls a day in 1917, when her father was awarded a Victoria Cross posthumously. Her mind wanders even further back . . .
1914. The old lady is now a little girl clinging to her father. “Don't go daddy!” she sobs.“Please George!” the girl's mother is pleading too, tears sliding down her cheeks. “I must go.” The man is trying to be brave but you can hear the tremor in his voice. “I must fight for our country like all the others. Be brave and please write to me. I want to hear all about our little one growing up.” He strokes the girl's hair and kisses the woman's cheek. Without another word, he turns and walks away, mingling with the crowd of New Zealand men destined to die. “Daddy!” the girl cries desperately one last time, but it is too late.
The old lady snaps back to the present with a shock and continues to listen to the news. “The museum's alarm went off sometime between midnight and 6am and staff soon realized that displays had been broken into. Our nation is shocked that such a thing could have happened, especially when you realize what the medals signify – the coming-of-age of New Zealand and the sacrifice of countless lives for our country.” The newsman turns to other events of the day: a murder, sport, the weather. With a shuddery sigh, the old lady turns off the radio and leans back into her chair. Slowly, she drifts off to sleep. . .
Loud bangs. Thudding feet. Guns drumming out continuously. A man is shot in the leg, another in the arm, one in the chest. Gasping. Shouting. George feels numb with the shock of still being alive. Just moments ago he killed a man. “The Turk was going to shoot me if I hadn't shot him,” he reasons with himself. More screaming. Sweat courses down George's face and drips on to his hands which are covered in blood. His or someone else's? He doesn't want to know. Blood is on the ground and the dead and injured lie side-by-side. The stench is overpowering. He trips over something – probably another body. He falls to the ground and tastes dirt mixed with sweat and blood. Something moves nearby. “Not a Turk!” he prays silently. He sees the flash of a bullet before it strikes his left thigh. Then another - this time in his chest. Faces swim before him - the triumphant grin of a Turk, his daughter and wife . . . Then everything goes black.
The old lady wakes up shaking. This nightmare has haunted her for many years, ever since her mother told her that her father died at Gallipoli. Tears stream down her cheeks as she remembers his kind face, gentle smile, rough fatherly hands. “He was proud to be a New Zealander,”she cries aloud. “I don't want his memory to be forgotten. ”
A few months later, the lady is again listening to the radio. She has almost despaired that the Victoria Crosses will be found again. But . . . “The Victoria Crosses stolen on December 2nd , 2007 have been recovered!” exclaims the news reporter. “Lord Michael Ashcroft of Nelson offered a reward of $300,000 and this week the missing medals were handed in to authorities. They will return home to the Waiouru Army Museum after security arrangements have been reassessed. New Zealanders from across our nation are gladdened by this good news.” The old lady gasps and breathes a prayer. “Thank you, dear God.” she murmurs. “The honour of our nation has been restored.”
Acknowledgement of Sources: