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DOMAIN CEREMONY.

The following addresses were delivered at the Domain ceremony yesterday afternoon:— The Mayor (Mr R. Galbraith) eaid we were assembled to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the day on which the New Zealanders received their first baptism of fire in the great war just ended. Those who took part in that Peninsular campaign set a, noble and glorious example to their comrades in arms who afterwardsfought on the Western Front and in other theatres of the war, and who fully maintained the high standard for valour thus set them. About this time last year the Allies were sorely pressed in France. VYere they downhearted? (No). But that was. more than he could say for some of the stay-at-homers. The lads, with their comrades, took a pull at their belts and, like the men in the Navy, "carried on" until the tide turned and wave after wave of victory came to our allies. Our boys on the West, not to be outdone by the Gallipoli heroes, finished with the storming of Le Quesnoy. The Returned Soldiers' Association was approaching the Government, and he thought rightly too, with- the view of having "Anzac Day" made a statutory holiday. One day in the year whori we could by outward signs mark our appreciation for the great sacrifices our brave Australian and New "Zealand lads made, not on Gallipoli aione, but all throughout the terrible conflicts. That blessed peace for which we had all prayed had come at last, but many thousands of our boys who were largely instrumental in giving us the victory, were no more. For them we would ever -mourn, and the generations to come would learn to regard "Anzac Day" as sacred to the memory of our noblest and best, who gave their lives for humanity's sake. They had received their reward from the Great Creator. Men of Anzac, and returned soldiers, said the Mayor, we greet you, and we all hope and trust that you will be long spared to enjoy the fruits of your hardships and valour so nobly won. .

The Rev. H. N. Wright then addressed the gathering. He stated that we were once more met together to commemorate the heroes .of Anzac Day, but this time without the shadow of war. It was a great satisfaction to have so many of those who fought for us present. The glamour of war was past, but all was not yet sunshine. During the great struggle God had been on our side and might did not triumph over right. To-day we could lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for having brought us into the glory of light and peace. We could look back over the four years of struggle and learn the lesson and prepare for the future. Victory did not come, to us without shedding blood, and those, who died gave their .lives so that we might enjoy peace. The speaker said he wondered if we over realised the extent of the sacrifices made by those gallant soldiers in our behalf. Did we realise the thousands of homes where mothers would not welcome their sons back again. Did we also realise the ziumber of mothers' hearts breaking and longing through tho long years of war. The speaker asked those assembled whethor they were to, forget Anzac. Day. In some there was the disposition to sayi "The war is over, let us try and forget all about it!" Such a thing, said Mr Wright, must never be. If we ever forgot those heroes we will be inhuman, it was impossible that we should ever forget those who gave up all and died that we might gain the victory. If it ever came to pass that we should forget those sacrifices, then let the Hun come and remind, us. The outstanding lesson" on Anzac Day was one of remembrance. In Christchurch he had noticed that tho ladies were selling sprigs of rosemary in remembrance of those who had died for us. We made a number of promises to the men going away that they would suffer no loss and that we would look after their dependents, and we sent the men away amidst cheers and flag-waving. Those soldiers were now coming back, and looking for the fulfilment of those promises. They were looking to-day for the gratitude of the country for what they had • done for it. Are they, asked the speaker, going to look in vain? Did we, continued the speaker, find provision made for their return.? Did the men find the organisation complete for them to settle down in civilian life and billets or would it be necessary for the soldiers to look out for themselves? Very little seems to have been done for them as yet. Very little enthusiasm was also being shown in the way of welcome for the returning soldiers. Perhaps wo would make up to our responsibilities in the years to: come. It was all very well to sling mud at the Government,.but, the speaker asked, what about ourselves? We should be doing our bit to show our gratitude, not in words, but in some practical deeds. Anzao Day was to us a day of pride and thankfulness; and this applied, not only to New Zealand, but to Australia. It was to many a day of remembrance and longing for those who had made the supreme sacrifice and had gone- west. The day was to us the testing ground of our men who had made good. (Applause). Those who took part in the campaign had won for their country fame and renown. The names of those who made the supreme sacrifice should be enshrined in the hearts of a grateful people. We do not sorrow for them, for we have pride and gratitude in our hearts for them. Will this gratitude now be shown in deeds? In Ohristchurch the speaker had noticed that they were selling emblems for which pounds, not small coins, were expected. That morning the speaker had watched for five or ten minutes the operations of the lady collectors, and .was surprised to notice how many had shaken their heads when approached, and passed on. Nothing for the soldiers, let them look for themselves, added the speaker. He hoped the same could not be applied to the Ashburton people, and thaE they were not going to shake their heads when asked for help. Mr Wright then asked those standing around to dip their hands deep into their pockets and find all that was necessary for those who had fought and bled for us. The returning men did not want just waving of flags and cheers, they required farms and work, and he hoped the country would wake up and see that they got it. (Loud applause.)

The Rev. G. Miller, in his opening remarks, said it was a great pleasure to see so large a gathering of peoplej it was evidence of a sincere desire on tfieir ■part to commemorate the deeds of the heroes of Anzae. It had been said that

the Gallipoli landing was a great mistake, but it might as well be said that the Belcian resistance wasi a blunder. In either case there was great loss of life, but surely the results were more than commensurate. There had been many hard and difficult campaigns in this war. continued the speaker, but none so full of hardship and difficulty as that of Gallipoli. Still, our men of Anzac had held Ihe British tradition on high, and on three occasions had defeated the Turks, lack of reserves and munitions preventing these victories from beine decisive. Mr Miller pointed out that there was another aspect of the campaign—the permanent effect it had on the course of affairs in the Eastern theatre. On account of Gallipoli. the proudest Turkish armies were taken from other theatres of war to engage our forces, and so the flower of the Ottoman troops perished; further, Italy had been brought into the war, initiating Tier great Austrian campaigns; finally the way was paved for the progressive victories of Generals Allenbv and Maude over the Turks. Greatest of- all, at Gallipoli, New Zealand had been made a nation, and Anzac Day would ever stand as a symbal of that graduation. He said that there had been nothing finer in the history of the war than the record of Anzac. Coining to a longer view, thanks was due to God for His presence and guidance throughout the war; thanks that we had been led on the side of righteousness by great leaders — Lord Kitchener, Sir Douglas Haig—and for the. men who fought so well under those leaders. Finally, we thanked God to-day for those who had made the great sacrifice, and equally for those who had been mercifully preserved and were present among us that day. Mr Miller concluded by reciting the soldier poet's (Rupert Brooke) sonnet,' " The Dead."

The collection taken in aid of the Returned Soldiers' Association amounted to £84 13s 9d.

After the memorial meeting in the Domain the returned soldiers present were entertained at afternoon tea at Sutherland's Tea Rooms, being the guests'jointly of the Ashburton Borough and County Councils. The members of the Bth (South Canterbury) Regimental Band and the Ashburton County Pipe Band were also present by invitation. The proceedings were of an informal nature. The Mayor (Mr It. Galbraith), representing the hosts, welcomed the soldiers, and expressed a hope that there would be an even larger gathering and reunion next year. • His Majesty's Theatre was packed to the doors last evening, on the occasion of the entertainment given in aid of the Returned Soldiers' Association. A special programme was screened and vocal items, which were much appreciated, were rendered by Miss Cooper and Miss W. Scherek,

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19190426.2.3.1

Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9595, 26 April 1919

Word Count
1,629

DOMAIN CEREMONY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9595, 26 April 1919

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