A former New Zealand SAS soldier who fought in Vietnam is praising the younger generation for turning up to ANZAC dawn services.
From our largest city to small rural settlements, New Zealanders turned up in their droves crowding around war memorials to honour those soldiers who never returned home.
In Upper Hutt, about 40 kilometres north of Wellington, was no different.
Joe Glen, who is also a former Te Karere journalist, noticed double the amount of people from last year attended this morning’s service – including children and teenagers.
He said the main thing that got him out of bed this morning, besides his loyalty to ANZAC Day, was the fact that people voted to retain the current NZ flag in the recent referendum.
“The flag referendum confirmed for us the flag that is flying today, (the flag) that will guide us for many years into the future – the flag that fallen soldiers died under (and) who are now laying in graves around the world,” Mr Glen said.
When Te Karere questioned him about whether it was time to create a day to commemorate New Zealand’s own land wars, he was quite reluctant about also using ANZAC Day for that purpose.
“Because I'm a soldier like so many who went before me, I say that we should leave this day (ANZAC) for itself, and a day for us to remember our forefathers, uncles and relatives who didn't come back from war.”
However, what delighted the old veteran the most was the significant amount of children and teenagers who woke up early for the dawn services.
“I am happy knowing that this commemorative day will not be forgotten about by our country and by the world. It doesn't matter where we travel to, whether it’s Gallipoli, Australia, or even England, ANZAC Day is being honoured and remembered.”
He said every year the number of people attending ANZAC services was increasing.