And so some people in Samoa paused once more yesterday morning to remember the A.N.Z.A.C’s. Pity that because once upon a time, it was an occasion to behold on these shores where an entire population would stop to remember.
Yesterday, during a parade at dawn on Beach Road (see full coverage from page 1 to page 6), a sizable crowd had gathered to pay their respects.
Many of them laid wreaths at the foot of the Apia Town Clock as a mark of respect for the fallen. The Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Sualauvi II, was among the crowd who took a moment to pause, reflect and acknowledge the sacrifice made so many of us can enjoy the freedom we have today.
For many of us, the A.N.Z.A.C. story has been well told. Observed on 25 April each year, it is an occasion to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (A.N.Z.A.C.) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
But A.N.Z.A.C. means different things to different people.
For some, the day is an opportunity to remember the men and women who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. It is a day to express our gratitude and say thank you for the sacrifice.
Many years ago, Samoa had honoured this day with a national holiday. Why the Government had decided against continuing the tradition, we’re not really sure.
But is A.N.Z.A.C. relevant to this country anymore?
And why should we care?
The answer is quite simple. A.N.Z.A.C. is extremely relevant and it is a day that deserves a lot more attention than it has been given. This is for the simple fact that a considerable number of Samoans also fought and served alongside the Australians, New Zealanders and Pacific island neighbours.
Thousands of Samoans living today are descendants of those brave souls. We believe their lives matter and their sacrifices cannot be ignored.
On page 4 of the newspaper you are reading, the President of the Returned Services Association (R.S.A.), Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio, has made a passionate plea about the need to revisit a number of issues in relation to A.N.Z.A.C. and the R.S.A.
He makes some valid points that should be seriously considered.
For instance, he pointed to the fact that when people talk about the R.S.A., they immediately think of the R.S.A. Nightclub. Which is not what it should be.
He said R.S.A. building is meant to represent the spirit and legacy of the A.N.Z.A.C’s. He then suggested that the building could be called the A.N.Z.A.C. House.
“We think R.S.A. has a significant place in the history of Samoa and in relation to the partnership with New Zealand and Australia and we want something to earmark the relationship,” he said.
The President also revisited the idea of making A.N.Z.A.C. Day a public holiday once more.
“A.N.Z.A.C. Day is not about glorifying war in the past,” he said, adding that continued hostilities around the world mean the horrors of the past may repeat themselves, and so the values of the A.N.Z.A.C’s should be remembered.
“It’s about the status of the future. We have to keep our guard up and stay vigilant.”
Well what do you think? Would you support a renewed call to make A.N.Z.A.C. a public holiday again?
Write and share your views with us.