Anzac Day 2009
As Americans begin the Fourth of July weekend, Ailsa’s challenge is to post on the theme of Independence.
For a New Zealander that can be a complicated question. The process of national independence has been an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, process. Indeed, as a country we are still grappling with such issues, as the current day debates about the flag and republicanism demonstrate.
Waitangi Day (which was briefly known as New Zealand Day during the term of the third Labour government) is a different sort of commemoration. It is a day when we think about injustices in the past as well as celebrating the present.
Other dates such as “Dominion Day” have never really been a thing, and even passage of the Constitution Act 1986 which severed our last formal ties with the British Parliament is not something that is recognized on a yearly basis (indeed I suspect most New Zealanders barely know about it).
In the popular cultural understanding the campaign at Gallipoli during the First World War is where New Zealanders and Australians really started to think of themselves as something other than British. Historians will continue to debate the validity of that perspective but, for many Kiwis, Anzac Day on April 25 is both a time to remember those who served in time of war and a national day of sorts.
On Anzac Day 2009, P. and I were riding the Otago Rail Trail.