Tag Archives: remembrance

Tarawa: Lest We Forget

We have been honouring Veterans’ Day and Remembrance Day, so it is timely to write my own ‘Lest We Forget’ post about a small place in the Pacific, to which we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.  That small  place is Tarawa Atoll.

This is what happened there from 20 -23 November 1943. ( Warning! This Academy Award Winning Documentary is VERY GRAPHIC. Please do not watch it if you find war scenes disturbing.)

The Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theatre of War was brutal. Within the space of 76 hours, the Americans suffered approximately 3166 casualties. Enemy casualties were also horrendous.  “Of the 3,636 Japanese in the garrison, only one officer and sixteen enlisted men surrendered. Of the 1,200 Korean laborers brought to Tarawa to construct the defenses, only 129 survived. All told, 4,690 of the island’s defenders were killed.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Tarawa

And let’s not forget that the Tarawa Atoll was inhabited by its own people . Their losses, material and psychological, were immense too, particularly for the inhabitants of Betio Island, the main site of the Battle of Tarawa. Pre-war the people of Betio had enjoyed a good subsistence lifestyle. http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/15557/OP36-109-112.pdf?sequence=1   Following World War Two, their fragile environment and livelihoods were left in ruins.

And, to a large extent, in ruins they remain to this day. Not just for Betio, but for the entire country which is today known as Kiribati. In addition to war, phosphate mining and nuclear testing have  taken their toll. Now Kiribati is engaged in a new battle. It is on the front-line of another great struggle; once again not of its own making. Slowly, but surely, Kiribati is drowning. Climate change and rising sea levels are torturing Kiribati to death.

And the big powers, some of whom were once prepared to fight over Tarawa Atoll to the last man, if necessary, because it was considered so important to their success, don’t seem to give a toss.

Which means that when we come to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa in 2043, or the centenary of the end of the Second World War, there may not be much left of Tarawa to see. Within the next 50 or 60 years, most of Kiribati will be uninhabitable because of climate change.

When the land sinks beneath the sea, the people of Kiribati will become citizens of nowhere.  What a tragedy. They will be as lost and broken as the 520, or more, Marines , and the thousands of Japanese, who lie, to this day, mangled and unidentified under the fragile surface of  Tarawa. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/magazine/the-search-for-the-lost-marines-of-tarawa.html?pagewanted=all

‘Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bonhomme Richard, the Alamo, Little Bighorn, and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa.’

—Robert Sherrod, Time Magazine War Correspondent, 6 December 1943

 

This post is for climate warrior/peacemaker Matisse whose recent post on Kiribati and climate change reminded me how often we forget what is on our doorstep  http://matissewb.com/2014/11/12/the-arctic-is-melting-islands-are-disappearing-the-president-of-kiribati-sails-to-the-top-of-the-world-to-visit-the-ice-that-will-soon-swallow-his-nation/#respond   Please read her post. It is important.

Lest We Forget …battles old and new, and an island people whose sacrifices, present and past, allow us to live as we do.

© silkannthreades

 

 

Good citizens, past, present, and future.

For Halloween I treated myself to a simple beaker of flowers.

Eye candy for humans, real candy for bees:  borage and phacelia

Borage and phacelia, good citizens of the garden, giving treats to all.

But I also received another, unexpected, sweet treat for Halloween; a lesson in good citizenship.

Friday morning a stranger knocked on my door; a smiling, cheerful, young woman. She told me that she lived down the lane opposite me. She said she wanted to take her two children  trick or treating. Would it be okay  if she brought them to my door around 5pm? ( Bear in mind that Halloween is not widely celebrated in New Zealand).  She said she was consulting a half-dozen neighbours and that would be more than enough households for her children to visit, and to give them a taste of Halloween fun.  They are only little, she said, just 4 and 6, and they are very excited about their Halloween costumes. Of course I said, yes, that would be fine, but I would have to go and buy some sweets because I had nothing suitable in the house.  “Oh, please don’t worry about that,” the young mother replied, ” I have prepared sweets for you to give them if you would like to join in.” Whereupon she produced a small ziplock packet of mixed sweeties/candy.

At 5pm exactly, Mum and the littlies came down my driveway, full of chatter and high pitched glee. They knocked on the door and squealed delightedly when I opened it ( I guess I have authentic witchy-white hair!) . “Trick or treat, ” they said in giggly unison. Their mother introduced them to me. Pleasantries exchanged, I produced the sweet assortment, and their little eyes grew round and big with amazement.  Hands dipped in to the bag until it was emptied. Then, with a polite thank you or two, the pink-slippered, silver-hatted witch and her Dracula-draped brother skipped off to another happy reception at my neighbour’s.

It was a lovely moment. Possibly one of the best Halloweens I have had; a thoughtful mother, teaching her children that their community  is a good place, and that they can be  part of the good citizenry that makes it so.

I hope she will, one day, also introduce them to what comes after Halloween; All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Days (also not widely celebrated in New Zealand, as far as I know).

Tonight and tomorrow I will light candles and remember  the good citizens of my small world who have died during the past year. Some were old and ready to leave us,  whilst others seemed far too young. In particular I want to remember two of our blogging community,  Catherine Crout-Habel  of Seeking Susan and Christine of  Dadirridreaming .  Many of you will know other bloggers who have died in the past 12 months. Please feel free to remember them in the comments, if you would like to.  They were good citizens enriching, and lighting up, our lives.

Summer lights

Summer lights brightening the days.

© silkannthreades

I love to tell a story….honouring a long tradition of story telling through the ages

‘I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.’  ~  ( Katherine Hankey, 1866 )

Dawdling at the kitchen window this morning,

Kitchen reflections

Kitchen reflections

I reflected on the tradition of Sunday story telling that was part of my younger years.  When I was little, the early hours of Sunday morning were filled by listening to Story Time/Children’s Hour on the radio. The same stories were repeated endlessly.  Yet I was not bothered by the repetition. It was good to hear old favourites over and over. Once Story Time and breakfast time were finished, we were shepherded off to Sunday School where, once again, we listened to stories; stories that had been told, and retold, for thousands of years.

We listened to those stories, we acted them out, we coloured them in, and we sang them, too. Remember this one?  Tell me the old, old story.

Thinking about Sundays and stories reminded me that I have a story to tell. It’s not new. You have heard most of it before; it’s tall but true, as well as sweet and ‘pleasant to repeat’.

It goes like this.

In the beginning there was  Britt , of the beautiful smile and the blue beret.

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Then there was the Book that Britt wrote,

and the Kindle that Gallivanta bought to read the book that Britt wrote,

The challenge of a new style of reading

The challenge of a new style of reading

which turned out to be a game changer in Gallivanta’s life, and prompted her to be a little sassy and issue a playful challenge to Britt, of the beautiful smile and the blue beret. The challenge:  to locate a totem pole by Chief Lelooska somewhere in Portland, the  replica of which  stood 7,000 miles away, here, at Christchurch Airport, in New Zealand.

 

And Britt, being much like one of the determined women in her Book, took up Gallivanta’s challenge and, with a few choice words like “Gallivanta, you stinker”,  went on a Totem Pole Quest in Portland, Oregon.

Was she successful? You bet. For two months Britt quested and queried and questioned and, finally, she  found Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, recently restored and reinstalled, at Oregon Zoo. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Chief Lelooska's Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

The End, but not quite…..if you would like to read more about Britt’s Totem Pole quest and the story of the Totem Pole itself, click here and follow the links.

Story telling over, it’s back to more dawdling for me,

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

and wondering why the little yellow flower of the sharp tasting rocket is so sweetly scented. Must be a story in that. 🙂

By the way, for the child in all of us, don’t forget that Story Time is still  a regular feature on Radio New Zealand.  Have a listen.

Endnote:

The photos of Britt at the Zoo and of Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole at the Oregon Zoo are used with kind permission from Britt. Please do not copy  or use them without her consent.

© silkannthreades

Monday Marvels

Continuing my daily contemplations;

Come sit awhile with me,

Come sit awhile with me

Come sit awhile with me

and marvel…..

my soul to wake

Blossom and Bee

“In glades deep-ranked with flowers that gleam and shake
And flock your paths with wonder…..”
Siegfried Sassoon,  Invocation, from his anti-war collection, Counter Attack.

 

With healing and love,

Gallivanta

 

© silkannthreades

One of the Many

This is my great-uncle.

My great-uncle

My great-uncle

This is where he lived with his mother and father, brothers and sisters.

Family Home

Family Home

This is the ship that took him to war.

Troopship MaunganuiDeck scene on the troopship Maunganui. Atkinson, J :Photographs taken in the Middle East during World War I, and postcards of New Zealand. Ref: PAColl-0095-002. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23169854

Troopship Maunganui Deck scene on the troopship Maunganui. Atkinson, J :Photographs taken in the Middle East during World War I, and postcards of New Zealand. Ref: PAColl-0095-002. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23169854

This is where he was wounded. In the guts.

Poppies, Gallipoli

Poppies, Gallipoli

This is where he died; on a hospital ship.

Place of Death     At Sea, HMHS Neuralia ex Gallipoli Date of Death     15 August 1915 Year of Death     1915 Cause of Death     Died of wounds

Place of Death At Sea, HMHS Neuralia ex Gallipoli
Date of Death 15 August 1915
Year of Death 1915
Cause of Death Died of wounds

Buried at sea, 1915, August 15, somewhere between Gallipoli and Alexandria.

But remembered here

Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey

Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey

and here.

One of Otago's 1900

One of Otago’s 1900

He was one of the many;  one of the 1,900 young ones, of Otago, killed during World War One; one of the 18,000 New Zealanders who died between 1914-1918; one of the 888,246 British and Commonwealth fatalities. One of…….. the list that never ends.

 

Does he rest in peace?  I can’t.

 

Acknowledgement: with thanks to my brother for his photos of the Poppies and the Lone Pine Memorial, at Gallipoli.

© silkannthreades

Praise Be

The  swan plant I ordered to replenish my monarch caterpillars’ food supply came yesterday, just in the nick of time. It has been planted,

Praise be for more food

Praise be for more food

and my remaining caterpillars are now busily chomping on their fresh greens. Hopefully, the caterpillars will  have enough food to take them through their fifth  instar and into their chrysalis stage.  Most of them look big enough to be close to their final and complete metamorphosis.

Is this the 5th instar?

Is this the 5th instar?

Whilst the caterpillars are nourishing their bodies in preparation for change, I thought we might do the same. Would you care to indulge?…..

in a taste of the last of summer in this delicious, spicy rhubarb cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

or, perhaps, in a little something that speaks of cooler mornings and the colder days to come; a gingerbread cake.

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

But, if you are wanting a lighter indulgence, may I suggest a serving of the apple, instead of the cake.  Again there are two choices; Cherry Gala apples lightly cooked with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of sugar and a handful of rose petals;

or Royal Gala and Eve  apples , sautéed gently in a sliver of butter and a sprinkle of sugar.

Mmmmm…How was that? Delectable? Are you feeling suitably indulged and ever so glad that we are not limited to one food type like the monarch caterpillar; that we are able to experience so many taste sensations; that we have such variety in our menus.

Praise be to the  butterflies  and bees that make that possible.

~

At 12.51pm today we marked the  third anniversary of the  February 22nd earthquake. At the memorial service in the Botanic Gardens, the Mayor said “Let us unite as we did after the earthquakes. For those of us who have been able to move on, let us reach out to those who are still struggling. .. For those who cannot move on, please do not be afraid to ask for our help… We can get through this together.”

In caterpillar terms, ( because I have this essential life form so much on my mind 😉 ) most of us have made it through the first instar; some of us are almost ready to be butterflies; indeed, may already be  flying freely. Some of us, such as myself, are still  ambling along in the third instar. But there’s no rush. With nourishment and nurture, we will, eventually, be transformed.

( I think I will make a good  butterfly, don’t you?  🙂   Better keep my feet clean, though. Butterflies taste through their ‘feet’! )

© silkannthreades

Cometh the hour, cometh the horse….

To celebrate the Year of the Horse, the National Gallery, London, has posted “Whistlejacket” by George Stubbs, as its  Painting of the Month.

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

Whistlejacket, George Stubbs, about 1762

The National Gallery also has a  Chinese Zodiac Trail which explores the symbolism of animals in eastern and western traditions.

According to the Gallery’s zodiac trail, the horse is one of the most admired animals of the  Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Horse are independent, value freedom, and are hard-working, adventurous, intelligent and successful. They embody the traits of a fellow creature who has accompanied us to the end of the world and, sometimes, back again…..

like Phar Lap

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

Phar Lap at Trentham Racecourse. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-2372-1/2-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23120509

This photo was taken in 1931 before Phar Lap’s  trip to the United States. Not long after this date, Phar Lap died  in San Francisco. He is probably New Zealand’s most famous racehorse, renowned for his great heart and his speed and, of course, the winnings and joy he brought to many people, during the gloomy days of the Great Depression. Timaru, his birthplace, has an outstanding memorial sculpture  of Phar Lap.

Another famous New Zealand horse, perhaps less well-known than Phar Lap, is Bess (Zelma)  . New Zealand sent  thousands of horses to the First World War. Only four returned home. Bess was one of  the four. She was born in 1910, and served in Egypt in 1915, Sinai in 1916, Palestine in 1917, France in 1918, Germany in 1919, and was in England in 1920, before coming home to New Zealand in July 1920. She died , on duty, in October 1934.

This is the simple, but eloquent, memorial to Bess. It bears an Arabic inscription, as well as one in English.

Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

Bess Memorial; Credit Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean (top image, c. 1986), Powles collection; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2010

As part of New Zealand’s commemoration of the start of World War One, in 1914,  a hundred years ago , there will be a special Anzac Day service at the Bess Memorial, on
April 25 2014, 9 a.m. Forest Road (Off Parewanui Road), Bulls.

The service will honour Bess, and all the horses that didn’t come home, to their New Zealand pastures.  In addition, “The Friends of Bess are hoping to publish an information book on Bess for WW100, and to improve the Memorial to Bess site for better public access and protection from the elements if funding can be obtained.”

I like that, in the Year of the Horse, we have this special tribute taking place in honour of  the horses who travelled, with their human companions, on what must have been one of the strangest, and most terrible, adventures of their lives. The Good Steed   by Marcus Wilson tells the tale of the New Zealand Military Horse, from the angle of the horse, in The Anglo-Boer War and World War One. It is a story worth telling; worth remembering.

Another story which honours the nature of the horse, and looks at the world from the horse’s point of view,  is  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Though written in 1877, it remains one of the best-selling books of all time. The 1915 edition of Black Beauty was illustrated by the artist  Lucy Kemp-Welch.  Lucy Kemp-Welch  painted horses in both peace-time and  in war-time. One of her horses-in-war paintings  Big Guns to the Front is displayed at the National Museum in Wales.

I can’t find an online image of that painting but, at our own Christchurch Art Gallery, there is a wonderful selection of artwork, featuring horses, collated for the Chinese New Year.     My favourite painting , in the collection, is one by Lucy Kemp-Welch, titled In the Orchard [Sunlight Through the Leaves] 1904-1905, which was acquired by the Art Gallery in 1932.

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/

http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/collection/objects/69-564/ In the Orchard, Lucy Kemp-Welch 1904-1905

To me, this scene of mother and foal represents the apogee of the loving, loyal, peaceful,  feminine side of the horse.

How lucky we have been to have these beautiful creatures at our side, throughout history. Long may our shared story continue but, hopefully, with more love and understanding  on our part.  An understanding that, if we  develop greater empathy with our equine family , we will be better humans.

May you have a Happy, Successful, Year of the Horse.

If you would like to seek, or refresh, your inner horse, take a look at Cindy Knoke’s blog and her gorgeous post on the Free Range Horses of Patagonia  The spirit of the Year of the Horse is bound to soar within you when you see Cindy’s photos.

© silkannthreades