April 25 2021. ANZAC Day in NZ and Australia.
Last ANZAC Day, we stood silenty at the end of our driveways, in darkness and social isolation.
Today, thousands are gathering for memorial services, held at dawn and at 11am all around the country. Once again we thank the freedoms we have Down Under to join together in large crowds, for this, for family events, for fifty-thousand strong concerts at rugby grounds as happened last night.
I've just peered up into the skies from my deck as formations of fighter planes fly overhead. This week, the Tasman Bubble opened up, and flights back and forth between NZ and Oz are now a thing. I think constantly of how lucky we are, and how well we've been lead through this crisis.
Two weeks ago, I was able to take advantage of our freedom and our flights to travel to Wellington, where I spent almost the whole day in Te Papa, NZ's national museum. I hadn't anticipated being there so long, but I walked into the outstanding Gallipoli exhibition expecting to take half an hour to nod at displays and admire the enormous Weta Workshops models of soldiers who survived or died on a distant Turkish peninsular.
And instead, I lost all track of time.
I absorbed every word, brushstroke and photograph of this incredible display, feeling like one of those film shots where time slows for the individual in front of the painting as people speed by on all sides. It was simply incredible.
Part-way round I realised I didn't have anything to take notes on, so I grabbed a pencil and a Field Service POST CARD provided for people to leave messages on while appreciating that this is all those trapped, frightened men and women (boys, in many cases) had to write to their loved ones. I scribbled the names of just some of the brave souls honoured there - Rikihana Carkeek, John (Jack) Dunn, Colonel Malone, Private Friday Hawkins, Cecil Malthus - as if to commit them to concrete them into my memory.
They've all been honoured in family memoirs and biographies of some kind, and in that exhibition, and today in memorial services around the two nations. I don't know what I'll do with those names, those memories, but it felt important to note them.
But the one thing I didn't note on that little 5 x 3 inch card was the overwhelming feeling thoughout the whole of that experience. It was there in the quotations of how they admired and celebrated each other's friendship, courage, stamina. It was there in the descriptions of their unswerving admiration for the Turkish soldiers whose rifles they faced and who met their demise on the point of an ANZAC bayonet. They honoured those men and agreed to ceasefires while both sides buried their dead. And, of course, it was there in the messages, letters, postcards and prayers they sent home in any way they could.
That overwhelming feeling was of love. Unwavering, unstoppable love.
Hours and hours later, I emerged from that museum feeling profoundly and endlessly touched. Today, that love is shared across the world in the same way as it's shared on Remembrance and Memorial Days at other times of the year. It matters. Sharing that love matters, especially to unite us during other contemporary challenges.
As ever, the way I know how to share love is through books. I wrote this book after one particularly moving Remembrance Day in the UK, and it's not the first time I've shared it by any means, but it seems fitting to share it again now.
PINEAPPLE is about WW1, when the Gallilopi campaign took place, and it's about some very contemporary challenges. But most of all, it's about love.
If you'd like to read it, you can download the ebook for free, in any format for your preferred reader. Go to PINEAPPLE and enter code WP38H
With much love,