Last Post, First Light is Fairfax Media's contribution to commemorating the nation's military history and sacrifices, and all they have achieved for the country.
The name of this project, which our readers will become familiar with in the months and years ahead, encapsulates the sense of sacrifice and loss that war has brought, but also the new beginnings that have followed.
The Last Post and its long, mournful notes are an integral part of our military memorial ceremonies; Anzac Day would seem incomplete without it.
Its origins go back to the tradition of armies setting up camp at the close of day. Sentries would take up positions at posts around the camp. An officer would inspect the posts. When he had checked the last one, he would order his bugler to sound ''the last post''; the signal that the day had come to an end.
Over the years this sound became associated with honouring soldiers who had died in battle that day. It became acknowledged as a lament and was played at burial services for the slain. From there it was a short step to being performed at memorial parades.
But the lament for a death also presages a beginning. The playing of the Last Post is followed by a pause, then the strident sounds of Reveille are heard. Reveille was the ''wake-up'' call for soldiers, at first light.
Over the next five years, New Zealand like the rest of the world will be marking landmark anniversaries of our most significant wartime experiences, centred on the centenary of World War I and the 75th anniversary of World War II.
Despite the passage of time since the world's worst wars, New Zealanders' commitment to commemorating such formative events is undiminished. In recognition of that lasting dedication, Last Post, First Light will become the signifier of the stories of New Zealanders past and present, and of how they, their families and their communities have been affected by and responded to the wars this country has been part of.
- © Fairfax NZ News