By Sam Schuurman
ANZAC Day – the 25th of April – is a day to both commemorate New Zealanders who have been killed in war, conflict, and/or peacekeeping operations, at any stage in our short history, as well as honour returned and current serving service men and women.
The date marks the anniversary of the ANZAC’s (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) landing on the shores of Gallipoli during the First World War – a campaign in which 8500 Australians and 2779 New Zealanders lost their lives.
While I’ve not had an insignificant military career – serving as a Navigator on the C-130 Hercules, and now as a Royal New Zealand Air Force Chaplain – for a long time I had never felt a deep connection to ANZAC day. Perhaps some of the disconnect came from my Christian convictions around loving our enemies, the power of non-violent protest, and ultimate allegiance to Christ above Country – though I’ve never been a pacifist.
However, these days, I have a far deeper appreciation for the importance and significance of this day. Not only is it hugely important, pastorally, to find ways to appropriately remember those who have died and to learn the lessons of history, there are many great virtues that this day should bring to the forefront of our minds – so many willingly sacrificed their lives for the freedom of others.
Sound like anyone you know?