David Clark | Issue 7
Itís an early start, but the traffic build-up pre-5am tells me Iím not alone. Literally thousands of people crowd around the cenotaph, threatening to spill onto the one-way system. Our countryís loss of men and women in their prime ó just a few generations ago ó is not forgotten.
From a much smaller University of Otago, 552 students or former students fought in World War One. Many of the reserve soldiers who will front for the commemoration this year also study on campus.
In 2015 we mark the centenary of our most famous battle at Gallipoli.
On 25 April 1915, Kiwi troops began landing at what is now known as ANZAC cove. By the end of the first day, 100 troops had been killed. It was the beginning of a disastrous campaign that led to the death of a fifth of all New Zealanders who landed there. Memorials across New Zealand bear witness to the bravery of the 2779 men who died in the failed attempt to wrest the Gallipoli Peninsula once and for all from the hands of its Turkish defenders.
There is no glamour in war: just grit and death. Decades on from conflict, the temptation to sugarcoat the experience ó atop the freedoms retained ó remains. But ask anyone who has served abroad: many are proud of their service, but the word glamorous wonít roll off their tongues. The wretchedness of war and its impact on Dunedin are captured in the exhibition at Toitu commemorating 100 years since the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli. Itís worth a visit.
If the ANZAC dawn service isnít for you, thereís a public service at the Andersonís Bay cemetery a little later in the morning; then Montecillo Veteranís Home hosts another.
There are other commemorations on 25 April ó not least among them, the OUSA service on campus. Hauntingly, the names of students who gave their lives in the two world wars echo the names of students studying today.