Since 1946, returned soldiers have paraded at the ANZAC Mass in St Mary’s Catholic church in Whanganui, but this year there were none. 

The last World War II veteran to attend — Joe Gibbs, who served at Guadalcanal — died last year.

They weren’t forgotten this year as all military personnel from all conflicts were remembered.

“What is this memory ‘thing’ and why is it so special?” asked homilist and parish priest Fr Marcus Francis. “Memory is important to the Church as well”.

There is anamnesis — the living memory that makes present what is remembered — and agape — the undiluted love in which we give of ourselves that finds expression in Eucharist.

“In this way, our remembering of the sacrifices and suffering of those who died in the wars, is given its full meaning through our celebration of Eucharist and living out the Resurrection.  Christ’s victory over sin and death becomes our victory and means that the suffering of the ANZAC’s and Turks as well, is not forgotten, but purified and kept for eternal life through the power of the One who loved us until death,” said Fr Francis.

Listening to the Last Post and singing New Zealand’s national anthem stirred deep emotions about the consequences of wars and those men and women today who are involved in peacekeeping for the sake of world security.