On this day 101 years ago, an armistice brought World War One to a close. New Zealand has every reason to remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. With the exception of small official ceremonies not much remembering is going to go on in New Zealand this Remembrance Day – a day that also serves as Veterans Day in the United States and is a Federal Holiday there. Canada observes Veterans Week every year from the 5th to the 11th of November culminating in Remembrance Day. ANZAC Day has become the focal point for New Zealand and Australian observances.
Remembrance is not just about wearing a poppy and laying wreaths. It is about taking actions all year round that seek to ensure that the world remains at peace. It is also about respecting those who have contributed to that peace and ensuring we remain vigilant – equipped and trained to deter aggression. In this regard, New Zealand hasn’t remembered much at all.
Over the last 90 articles on this blog, I’ve traversed these subjects many times and today I’m remembering by summarizing the highlights. This blog started because a journalist published a piece asserting that we could solve homelessness by disestablishing the Defence Force and using the money for social purposes. My reply was published by Stuff and is here in full on the Unclas blog:
An important theme that runs through my posts is that of the health and wellbeing of current and former service personnel and their families. The fallen would, I believe, want us to focus on the living. Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries are a ticking bomb and the State has a responsibility – moral if not legal – to redress wounds both visible and invisible resulting from service. There are many injuries and illnesses experienced because of service that simply fall through the cracks of our accident compensation and healthcare system. Think exposure to radiation and Agent Orange as just two examples. We need a strong covenant between society and veterans.
There is a consistent trend toward spending less time and money on National Security. This ranges from a lack of a national security strategy through to falling numbers, inequitable employment arrangements and smaller relative investment.
Last year, in the context of information that the Defence Capability Plan was going to be released on 11 November, I published an article entitled Don’t Politicise Remembrance Day. I imagine that detractors will seize on the opportunity today’s piece represents to accuse me of doing exactly that. I disagree – this piece is designed to focus minds on what Remembrance is about in its entirety. If we are to maintain any significance around 11 November, perhaps we should follow the lead of our North American allies and declare it Veterans Day?
I’ll be observing a minute’s silence at 1100 hours today. Will you?
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