Eighteen thousand Kiwi sons and daughters

Tomorrow is Armistice Day, and 100 years since the end of WWI. As part of the commemoration, a Field of Remembrance has been created on the lawn at the Auckland Musuem. There is a cross (or a Star of David) for every one of the more than 18,000 New Zealand men and women who died in that conflict.

This evening, hundreds of people walked through the field, many looking for specific ancestors. The Big T and I found both of his great uncles; one who died at Gallipoli, the other in the Third Battle of the Somme.

There is a separate area of the field commemorating the 1461 dead who also lost siblings, children or fathers in the conflict.

In a country of around a million people, New Zealand’s loss of 18,000 young men and women is tragic. Hardly a family in the country would have been untouched.

But how much worse for those families who lost more than one son or daughter. Tonight I can’t stop thinking about those mothers; especially the nine for whom the war robbed them of four of their children.

Posted to Six Word Saturday. Well, my title conforms.

Story-telling in glass


Window dedicated to members of the Royal New Zealand Navy and New Zealand Merchant Navy who served in conflicts abroad. Hall of Remembrance, Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie 2018

I’ve always been drawn to the Auckland Museum’s Hall of Remembrance — a long marble gallery lit softly by multiple leadlight and stained glass windows set in the walls and ceiling.

It is a quiet space, where symbolism and personal loss hang heavy. Where column after column of names engraved on the walls mark, but do not do justice to, the thousands of New Zealanders who have died in wars, and continue to do so.

It’s difficult to reconcile that still, beautiful space with the noisy, ugly realities of conflict.

But perhaps that is the point.

A lie preserved in stained glass doesn’t make it more true. — Saul Williams

We must shine with hope, stained glass windows that shape light into icons, glow like lanterns borne before a procession. Who can bear hope back into the world but us.  — Marge Piercy

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