For many years now I’ve made the slow, thoughtful grind up Ayr Street in the pre-dawn chill in time for the Anzac Day dawn ceremony at Auckland War Memorial Museum. It is always deeply rewarding, taking the time, alongside a large crowd of friends and neighbours, to reflect on the sacrifices of our forebears and on the ideals for which they fought.
This year is special because Anzac Day marks 100 years since New Zealand soldiers landed at Gallipoli.
Like most Kiwi families whose roots in New Zealand extend back to that period, my family suffered from that brutal campaign. My great grandmother’s brother, Edgar John Penman, a trooper in the Auckland Mounted Rifles, was killed in action at Gallipoli, on 19 May 1915. He was 20. His death, one of the 2,779 New Zealand deaths that occurred during the 8 months of the campaign, broke the hearts of his entire family, with the sadness of his young life cut short lingering with my great grandmother for decades.