Friday, April 26, 2024

Clive Bibby: We will remember them

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

Thanks to Padre Bill Gray (MNZM, QSM) and his committee, the Tolaga Bay Community will certainly remember this year’s Anzac service and the fallen heroes we honoured, as amongst the best ever.

Personally, l found it a most humbling experience in so many ways.

Thankfully the weather played its part by contributing to the service with a spectacular sunrise out of the orange/red horizon as the flags were lowered and raised and the wreaths were laid at the memorial gates.

I felt a deep sense of reflective pride as one of my mates Nick Seymour, laid his own wreath in memory of his Dad who, like so many of our servicemen, did not return.

It was a privilege to be associated with the hundreds of fellow citizens who came to share in this memorable occasion. I doubt there was a town in the country where so many of its residents turned out to honour their war dead. Burglars would have had a field day rummaging through the unlocked houses with no one home.

There were so many other aspects of this service that made it so special.

We listened in silence to the speeches and the Padre’s order of service. Is there another person who can conduct such an event with just the right mix of solemnity and humour - if so, l’d like to meet him. At one stage after the laying of the wreaths, our MC made an impassioned plea to the gathering not to flog the wreaths because he needed them back for next year in order to keep costs down. He then proceeded to apologise to our local policeman, Senior Constable Richard Reeves who gave the main address, for failing to gain a permit for the fireworks display.  Wonderful stuff and so appropriate.

Faced with the lack of the usual military personnel and band accompaniment, Bill directed proceedings using recordings of Bagpipes (Amazing Grace),an orchestral version of Il Silenzio, Rifle volleys and topped it all off with a reading of the names of every soldier from both World Wars whose names are engraved on the memorial gates.

For me this was the standout part of the ceremony.

As each serviceman’s name was spoken, it was as if each one was standing before us with a big grin on his face. And the other unmistakable feature of that list of names was that they were all there as equals, irrespective of military rank, race, standing on the social ladder or political and religious beliefs.  We honoured them as one.

I have never been to another service (and l’ve been to many) that was so emotionally charged as we progressed through the list of those who made the supreme sacrifice in order that future generations of kiwis would be free.

I doubt there was a dry eye amongst those in attendance.

Thank you Padre and to all those who took part in the service.

You have done us and those we remember proud.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.

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