It is distressing and abhorrent that community ANZAC Day commemorations are being cancelled, traditional marches to cenotaphs being halted by police and the traditional volleys fired by NZDF personnel stopped. As a former soldier and former Associate Minister of Defence I have participated in all of these aspects of ANZAC Day and find it offensive that “security concerns” can dictate the way in which we honour and remember the fallen.
Those we remember on ANZAC Day fought for our freedoms, too many of them paid with their lives. Thanks to their sacrifices we live in a free society. We’re free to go where we please, free to gather with others, enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of association. Yet this ANZAC Day the Police have told us we’re not free to gather with our local communities because they can’t protect us. They blame the government imposed heightened security threat. The government says it’s up to Police to sort this out. The Police have caused cancellation of two thirds of Auckland ANZAC Day gatherings to date.
The events of 15 March were horrific – the sort of tragedy we never thought we’d see in our peaceful nation. The government and security agencies take the lead in such circumstances. But the lasting effects of such tragedies rest with the public. We can wait to be protected, live in fear and allow our movements to be curtailed, or we can get on with our lives. The Prime Minister has been praised both at home and around the world for her handling of the terror attack on the Christchurch Mosques. Now it’s time for her to complete the job by encouraging kiwis not to be fearful, to continue going about their normal routines, to continue with traditions like attending ANZAC Day services in our communities. Anything less means we allow the terrorist to win.
ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance. The way in which we remember must not be about the convenience for Police, but about New Zealanders being free to attend services and to march in respect of those who fought in global conflicts. I don’t believe any curtailing of ANZAC Day commemorations is founded. It merely builds fear when public unity is called for. For this reason, I have launched a petition today: Resist ANZAC Day Restrictions. Attend and March. You can find more information on the facebook page.
Almost 2,000 have signed already. I have.