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We will remember them

Today has been a wonderful day of ANZAC commemorations here in Wellington. Particularly so as today is 100 years since the ANZAC story began at Gallipoli.

During all of the events I have been to today, I have thought of the members of my family who have served in war - particularly my Poppa, John Stanbridge.

Poppa served in the Pacific during World War 2. He played Trombone in the Army (brass) Band bringing entertainment, and through it restoration, to the troops. The band were also medics so he was also very much on the front line; serving the injured.

Poppa went on to live a very full life until he went to be with the Lord in 1982 aged 69. Nana lived on for another 5 years until she went to be with the Lord in 1987.

Poppa and Nana married during the war. They went on to have 5 children (my Mum is the oldest) and 16 grandchildren (I am the oldest). They also welcomed a steady succession of others to become part of our family. For a time they lived in Opotiki but for most of their marriage they lived in Gisborne.

Poppa served his community through The Salvation Army who had become his whanau during tough times for him, his Mum and his brothers when he was a boy.

Poppa also served his community through his work as a plumber with the Education Department on the East Coast and later through his own plumbing business in Gisborne.

Family get togethers were frequent and rich times. I have lived in Wellington all my life but many of my most vivid and enjoyable childhood memories are of regular holidays in Gisborne with Nana and Poppa and the extended family - some of whom also had to travel to join us in Gisborne.

As a child I spent a lot of time with Poppa. I remember many conversations about family, brass music, gardening (his other love) and various other things.

Poppa didn't talk much about war. I remember trying to talk with him about it only to see a distant look come into his eyes and the conversation turn to other things.

Poppa came home from war but too many, including some of our family, did not. Even those who came home bore scars which they largely kept to themselves - whether the scars were external or internal.

As well as the lives that were lost, too many stories and memories are now lost to time.

Today, we have remembered them more than any other day - those who came home and those who didn't.

Even if we don't know all their stories.

We will remember them.

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