Emotional dawn service

They fought for our freedom

Last updated 08:54 25/04/2014

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Hundreds of people gathered in Picton this morning for the Anzac Day dawn service, which marked the year of the centenary of the start of World War I.

Veterans, families and friends stood at the memorial site on the foreshore to commemorate fallen soldiers from New Zealand and Australia.

The crowd was silent as Picton Returned and Services' Association president Allan Beaton spoke.

Anzac Day was a time for people to remember those who fought for our freedom, Beaton said.

"We are here today to appreciate and commemorate that 100 years ago inevitable conflict occurred . . . conflict which should not have happened."

There were 100,000 New Zealand men and women who fought in the war - of them, 18,000 died, 40,000 were wounded and others suffered from mental scars, Beaton said.

He acknowledged all the families who had come to commemorate those who fought in the war.

"There is hardly a family that was not touched or affected in some way," Beaton said.

Vietnam veteran Bob Salter, of Picton, attended the service with his wife, Gemma, his daughters, Samantha and Jacqueline, his son Joseph and his granddaughter Aria-Rose.

His daughter Samantha said it meant everything for Salter, who is living with cancer, to be there today.

"We always go every year. It's very special this year because it will probably be his last. He is feeling the effects of the war now."

It was important for Samantha that all his family was there to support him, she said.

Retired pastor Bill O'Brien said a prayer before Picton and Blenheim kapa haka group, Te Rerenga O Te Ra, performed the Ode of Remembrance in Maori.

RSA welfare officer and Vietnam veteran Rani Sims said the service should be a reminder of those who went out to battle and did not return. "They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them," Sims said as the flags were raised.

Guest speaker Royal New Zealand Air Force group captain Darryn Webb shared the story of his grandfather serving in World War II.

The wars took the lives of thousands of men and women and everyone was gathered to honour them, he said

"We are here to commemorate their sacrifice for the freedom we have today which we often take for granted,"' he said. "A hundred years ago today a war claimed the lives of 18,000 of the finest."

Next year's Anzac Day service will be the 100th service.

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- The Marlborough Express


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