Although I now live in Rarotonga, for Nigel who came up from NZ, and me, the lasting memories will always be the people. We attended the Dawn Service in Avarua and the emotion of the service and the feelings that were expressed were a wonderful experience. The High Commissioner touched a raw nerve when she compared the situation prior to the First World War and the current situation – the similarity is very marked.
There was also the peace and tranquility of the islands displayed by the simple laying of the wreaths – what a gem Dame Margaret is.
The Boys Brigade Band was great and one has to think of the dedication in time and effort that goes into their performance. The RSA has again shown that they are very much a part of the community, drawing people from everywhere to share their memories.
We attended the Community Service in Aitutaki and this was similarly moving and an exercise in simple dedication. The youth turned out and marched, not always in step because they were so young, but all of them with enthusiasm.
The Church Service was a great example of how we serve one God. The service afterward gave the opportunity to lay wreaths and reflect. We thank the Island Committee for holding a special meeting to enable us to meet them and share ideas.
But of all this for us came the responsibility to do what we can to save and maintain our standards and not to let the incursion of other cultures and beliefs force us to compromise on the standards which we take for granted. The laws we have, even though they are not perfect, are integrated into our way of life and for those who want to live under other standards there are numerous countries that accept those rigours – likely those are the countries from which they came.
It is for us to argue the small points but strengthen the principles which have been enshrined in the ANZAC tradition.
We owe a large debt of gratitude to Air Rarotonga and Air New Zealand for making this pilgrimage possible and to Cook Island News for the sensitive handling of our trip.
It is our hope that next year, for the ANZAC Centenary, we will return with a larger contingent of former SAS servicemen to not only share in your celebration but also to stay and enjoy this beautiful land.
Bill East and Nigel Lindsay