Anzac Day has been a busy one for Year 8 Mission Heights Junior College (MHJC) student Saniya Lal.
The Flat Bush resident has been selected in the (12-18 age group) as the winner of the Annual Howick RSA Anzac Day speech competition from around 200 entries.
Saniya and Year 10 fellow student from MHJC, Andrew Ma, have been invited to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to read a poem where students were asked to examine the idea of peace by reflecting on the theme: `War is over… if you want it’. Both the students’ pieces were chosen from more 200 entries.
An abridged version Saniya Lal’s speech delivered at Stockade Hill
It has been more than a century since the First World War ended. The wounds it inflicted now fade into scars. Scars that will never heal. Although the war has long since ended physically for some, the war never ends mentally. For some, the real battle is only beginning. Being shell-shocked was a common occurrence amongst men who fought for their country.
These days being shell-shocked is referred to as PTSD. In most cases, soldiers lose interest in their former life. This occurrence is common because they have had a terrifying experience on the battlefield as they have seen their friends die around them.
It is an unfortunate predicament these men are placed in. These men who fought so bravely in a war and yet a losing their fight with the burdens they carry. The burden of seeing slain comrades. The burden of coming home without those they fought beside. The burden of a mother’s tears, a wife’s lament, and a child’s insurmountable loss. The burden of knowing that they have killed so not to be killed themselves.
The nightmares that plague the former soldier’s minds are unimaginable to us who live in a sanctuary bought by paying with the lives of these men. Inescapable nightmares that take them back to the battlefield. Soldiers who can only watch as their friends are shot.
Soldiers who do come back, never come back as themselves. They remain only a shell left behind, nothing left of the person before the war.
The soldiers who died and fought to save us, the future of Aotearoa. New Zealand’s population was just over one million in 1914 and due to the number of people who died during and after the war due to sustained injuries, 58 per cent of New Zealand’s population was wiped because of one war.
Those who paid the ultimate price of their lives. They paid it so that we can live the lives that we do. The fallen soldiers fought for us, so Aotearoa can stay free so we can live in freedom and peace.
Our fallen soldiers fought with a desire for history not to be repeated. To bring us peace they fought and fell. These soldiers gave up their hopes and dreams to give us a peaceful nation to live in. They destroyed a world of darkness and created a world of light and peace. We must keep this light burning in our world. We must aim to be a light for others to bring them peace. Those who fell shall never grow old, never be forgotten for we will remember them and their sacrifices. Lest we forget.