Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Lest We Forget

Today is April 25 and it is 103 years since the ANZAC forces landed on the shores of Gallipoli during the Great War of 1914 - 1918. In both New Zealand and Australia it is a sombre day of Remembrance. As I have just returned from a vacation in New Zealand I wanted to acknowledge this date and share some images taken on my trip that are pertinent to this day.
 First I wish to honor the memory of my grandfather, James Patrick Coughlan, Ist Batallion Otago Regiment, who was there on April 25, 1914 and also my father, James William Coughlan, 36th Battalion, who served in the Pacific during WWII.
 Our recent trip to New Zealand involved travel through some places that have a special connection for my family memories. I was impressed by the care taken with upkeep of the many cenotaphs of remembrance even in the smallest of locations like this one in Glenroy, on state highway 77, 12 km west of Hororata in Canterbury. While we have no direct conenction to this hamlet my father had a much remembered sheepdog named Glen and my sister lived on a street named Glenroy.
 On April 23, our last day in New Zealand, we had time to spare waiting for the first of our three flights to get home. That was at the Christchurch airport where, unlike most days of our trip, the weather turned on a beautful sunny autumn day. Wandering outside to enjoy the sunshine I came across a beautiful tribute to the (then) upcoming Anzac Day. If you are wondering about the large piece of sculpture in the background it is "Cumulus Gate Pavilion for Richard Pearse" by sculptor Gregor Kregar and installed in 2012. Richard Pearse was a pioneering New Zealand aviator who flew and landed an airplane in 1903 some time before the Wright Brothers later more well known flight.
 Much careful and painstaking attention to the small detail of "planting" all the poppies made for a poignant sight.
 We spent two nights in the small South Canterbury farming community of Fairlie, gateway to the Mackenzie Country. When my father was a boy his parents owned and farmed a property in this vicinity and the stunning landscape in the area is a particular favorite of mine. Like many towns Fairlie was preparing their Cenotaph for Anzac Day. The white crosses installed at the base of the Cenotaph I can understand but I am not sure why there was also that higher scaffold to the left.
 In the  Omaka Aviation Museum in Blenheim I came across this display of some of the handmade poppies that were made for the 5000 Poppies project. Long time readers of my blog might remember my mention of this amazing project when I was at the Manawatu Quilt Symposium in January 2015. If you click on the link you will see this project eventually yielded more than 300,000 individually handmade poppies mostly made in Australia and New Zealand but also from many worldwide locations.
 The display at the Christchurch Airport was better appreciated in person than through the camera lens as the stunning black sillhouettes were difficult to photograph against the very busy backgrounds.
Thank you to Kilamrnock Enterprises for planting this field of poppies. It was a wonderful way to end our New Zealand trip.

Lest We Forget.