What matters to some teenagers today? This stereo, those clothes, that car, where's the party? What about, "Should I go and fight for my country?" To many teenagers in 1914 going to war was an exciting prospect. It mattered, just like the clothes and the car matter in 2002. Would today's young New Zealanders react in the same way if they were suddenly faced the prospect of sacrificing their lives for their country? Not likely. We should learn from the sacrifices of earlier generations. Anzac Day is not a feeble excuse for a public holiday. It is a time for teenagers to acknowledge some important lessons about what really matters.
We lose a sense of who we as a nation if we let popular modern day events obscure Anzac Day's significance. Wins in major sports like rugby against other countries are often presented by the media as our defining moments. Many young New Zealanders seem to regard sporting success as all that matters to us as a nation. We need to see past the superficial glamorised way the media presents these victories as great national moments and their sports stars as heroes. Anzac Day is one public occasion in the year when New Zealand recognises its ordinary heroes, those who put their lives on the line for their country. We should also acknowledge those who honour their whakapapa and remember their ancestors" deeds in individual ways too. In the documentary The Last of the Anzacs Joe Pere placed soil he collected from Gallipoli where his grandfather fought and died at his mother's grave to bring his spirit or wairua home. This kind of personal tribute is just as important as public Anzac Day ceremonies in recognising what our ancestors have done for us. It should hold greater significance for us than some media hyped sports result.
The disaster at Gallipoli also should also teach teenagers that knowledge and understanding are more powerful weapons than fighting. At the end of The Last of the Anzacs: 102 year old Anzac veteran Doug Dibley revealed a simple yet powerful insight: "I've learned something I"ll never forget the rest of my life - how fruitless war is.