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Person raises flag at night.
Photo Credit: Kira Morris
Veteran Ben Armstrong raises the New Zealand flag at Scott Base during an ANZAC ceremony honoring the sacrifices of military personnel on April 25. Personnel from McMurdo Station were invited to attend and participate in the event.

Day of remembrance

McMurdo joins New Zealand neighbors for ANZAC ceremony

On April 25, New Zealand’s Scott Base crew invited McMurdo Station residents to make the two-kilometer trip over the hill on Ross Island and join them in celebrating ANZAC Day, a holiday honoring the fallen soldiers from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in World War I and subsequent conflicts.

A century ago, in 1915, the two nations entered what at the time was called the Great War, landing troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula to fight the Ottomans in what is now Turkey. More than 2,779 New Zealanders died in the campaign. 

For the Fallen
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

“Each year we pay homage, not only to those original ANZACs, but to all who died or were disabled in their service to our country. They enrich our nation’s history. Their hope was for the freedom of mankind and we remember with pride their courage, their compassion and their comradeship,” said Becky Goodsell, Scott Base’s winter leader, during her speech.

Ceremony attendees heard a prayer and a reading from Binyon’s For the Fallen (see box at left), observed a minute of silence, and watched while the New Zealand flag was lowered and raised to the bugle calls of “The Last Post” and “The Reveille,” respectively.

“As a veteran, I felt honored to be included in the ceremony. The respect for people who have served, in particular for those who lost their lives, is a universal sentiment. And I was honored to be sharing that with them,” said Richard Harper, McMurdo’s lead physician.

“Given the starkness and austerity of setting, the emphasis on the flag, its symbolism, was more poignant that it would have been in a richer environment,” he added. “Something about the bare flag against the darkening sky, the single solider raising and lowering the flag, was very moving.”

 

Sample Image
Photo Credit: Peter Rejcek
A penguin in Penguin, Tasmania, shows its ANZAC spirit on April 25.

The ceremony is also an opportunity to learn a little about the history of New Zealand.

“We know so much of our country’s story, or we hear the story of other major players in the war,” said postal supervisor Keri Nelson, whose permanent residence is on New Zealand’s North Island. “I didn’t know a lot of what [New Zealand] did as a country. It’s small country doing so much in a large-scale war.

It’s as if an entire U.S. state did that much. It’s a significant thing.”

At the close of the ceremony, all observers were invited inside to warm up, enjoy light refreshments – including the traditional ANZAC Day biscuit, an annual favorite – and engage in conversation with our Kiwi neighbors.

McMurdo Station will extend a similar courtesy in May, when the Scott Base crew will be invited to stand beside Americans during a Memorial Day ceremony.

Pedro Salom contributed to this article.

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Curator: Michael Lucibella, Antarctic Support Contract | NSF Official: Peter West, Office of Polar Programs