As the sun rose on another Anzac Day service in The Square, thousands of Palmerston North residents paid their respects at the cenotaph.
Mayor Grant Smith spoke to the crowd on Wednesday, reminding them that 100 years ago, peace seemed like a distant memory.
He said the brutality of World War I left its mark on New Zealand.
‘‘I can only imagine the dark days our country was going through at this time.’’
By February 1918, New Zealand had 18,000 casualties of war. Of the 5000 lives lost, 800 were from Palmerston North, a large number considering the population was only 12,000.
Lieutenant Commander Adam Flaws, from the New Zealand Defence College in Palmerston North, spoke about how 1918 was a year of bitter losses.
As well as the high casualty list and loss of life, New Zealand was swept by an influenza epidemic that killed another 8000 people.
Flaws said the commitment of New Zealand’s armed forces didn’t stop after World War I and WWII either, with Korea, Vietnam, East Timor and Afghanistan all following.
‘‘All risk their lives in deployment.’’
For Flaws, Anzac Day was always about honouring the service and sacrifice.
Awatupu College student and Palmerston North Youth Council member Mosiah Igatia spoke about his family connection to war. His relatives went from Niue to fight in the battle.
He said 150 men left their island paradise for the horrors of the WWI battlefields. His greatgreat-uncle and great-great- grandfather were two such men.
During WWII, his greatgrandfather served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, giving Mosiah links to both events.
As the dawn light started spreading, various organisations and services were invited to lay wreaths on the cenotaph.
An impressive addition this year was a wreath of large poppies, about 1 metre square in size, organised by the Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre and created by Manawatu¯ residents. It featured front and centre during the service.
The clock tower was lit up red for the ceremony, with large pop- pies on display on the panels.
After the dawn ceremony, many of the participants in the parade retired to the Cosmopolitan Club on Linton St, or attended the mayor’s VIP breakfast at the Conference and Function Centre.
A smaller, civic ceremony was held at 9am.
Thousands gathered in The Square in Palmerston North for Anzac Day services.