WINSTON PETERS: The war to end all wars

22/04/2015

Anzac Day provides us an opportunity to reflect on our place in a world torn apart by conflict. One hundred years ago we took part in a war that was paradoxically supposed to bring peace. That war, “to end all wars”, led into another war and to regional conflicts that continue to this day.

About 100,000 New Zealand troops and nurses served overseas during 1914-18 – about ten percent of our total population. Our casualty rate was nearly 60 percent, with 16,697 New Zealanders killed and another 41,317 wounded. Hundreds more died after returning home and many more suffered long term mental and physical trauma.

New Zealand had one of the highest casualty and death rates per capita of any country involved in the war. It is difficult to grasp the full extent of the horror the conflict inflicted on this small nation on the other side of the world. Every town, every settlement and in some places every family was affected. The losses must have been almost unbearable. Such waste of life and what consolation?

It’s important to remember April 25th not as a glorious occasion for flag waving and sabre rattling but as a time to remember the terrible price we paid in a war not of our making in a far off land.

Present day political leaders comfortable behind their protection squads talking about “splendid sons of ANZAC” heading off to Iraq will learn that history is a very harsh teacher. New Zealand and Australia can only properly remember the dead, and the price they paid, by not condemning the living to a similar fate.

Winston Peters is the leader of NZ First 

source: data archive