Hope and Sons Funeral Directors — Apr 28, 2016

About 150 local residents attended the parade and service at the Brighton Hall. Guest speaker was Michael Hope JP.

Michael spoke about remembrance and the importance to pause in our busy lives. 

Here are his words.

Thank you for the invitation to speak today. It is a great honour and I trust I can share some thoughts that are useful and meaningful.

I’ll admit to being a little surprised at being asked – and my initial reaction was “How could I have any right to speak on ANZAC Day”. Firstly I felt way too young – I am Generation X, born to baby boomers, and thankfully never having experienced any form of world war in my lifetime. Secondly, what gives me the right talk and war and peace…

But then you get to thinking….

And the thoughts of freedom, and service, of army, and conflict, of family, and remembrance, of travel , and sacrifice, honour and commitment. The tragedy and reminder of war.

Being 100 years since WW1…it has been an interesting year. Reading , reflecting, learning more about those terrible days of the First World War.

Firstly I read a book last year on the establishment of the CWG, enlightening, and remarkable that this was the first war where British Soldiers, in particular, were honoured on the battlefields where they fought and died. Prior to this and considering the over 1000 years of history there were no official monuments to fallen soldiers from the Bristish Isles, Quite remarkable.

Through this process we decided to research as many of the Hope and Sons staffs relatives who had served in the WW1 and we looked them up thru personnel records and have recorded them on our website, as a mark of respect. Deeply personal and interesting and give you an amazing feeling of it being so close to home. Of affecting us all personally.

But when I think about WW1 I think about WW2…and then another personal link. 

We have photos on the wall at home of my father-in-law Flying Officer NW Flavell – who joined at 17 and went to Canada to train and joined the RAF and flew as a navigator in the bombers with Allied Command – luckily for me to return to NZ and have a family.

Then I thought about Vietnam…when I started work in the late 1980’s I worked with Sgt V Smith ex SAS… he sadly took his own life – but what was disheartening was that at his funeral I remember being told that half of his platoon with which he’d served had already died.

Then I realized I had grown up with Cadets at Bayfield High School – we attended military training and attended Annual Camp at Tekapo manning our own Howitzer.

And then finally when I think back over the 10,000 funerals that Hope’s have looked after since at started, and the many hundreds of Returned Services Funerals I have attended.

I realize that in many ways we are experts in remembrance, reflection, and memorials. The resurgence of ANZAC Day Remembrance I have seen evolve through my own children over the last 10-12 years. So it probably does make sense that I speak today…

We, as funeral directors, deeply understand the importance of understanding the reality of death, of reinforcing the shock and permanence of loss, and the complicated way that we as human beings cope with severe loss.

We encourage remembrance and reflection, and understand I think why the community as a whole gravitates towards the shared strength in being together to mourn but reflect and remember, like a funeral it is important to take time out of busy lives to pause, reflect, remember, and acknowledge the importance of the loss of every life – no matter the reason.

We need to be able to let go, to feel the agony, and release that special person – in a timely and respectful manner - remember, to smile, to cry, and be able to let go and say goodbye.

It is good to have reminders of those that have gone, gentle reminders, and strong reminders.

There is some tremendous reminders in memorials around – not just at Gallipoli and in Belgium – but we have personally seen the American memorials to those lost at 9/11 – the two huge man-made waterfalls that pour into the footprints of the twin towers with every name etched in bronze.

Seeing the civil war battlefield memorials in Vicksburg, Mississippi was truly moving – 16 miles of roads in park-like setting with all the battles depicted and all the units wounded or killed honoured with huge memorials. There are 1000’s of these across the south. The US is certainly good at honouring and remembering the fallen.

NZ has an interesting array of WW1 memorials in every community and township – take some time the next time you pass through a town to stop and have a look at the War memorial.

We are well thru Green Park Services and I hope the newly established section at the Dunedin Cemetery is never filled!

Jet’s Dad never mentioned the war – and that seems it is not unusual. But just because it was often not mentioned – it does not mean or lessen the importance of the incredible efforts and sacrifice that all service personnel have given to give our freedoms and lifestyle.

We are truly blessed the live in this beautiful country that I call home; so whoever you are remembering today and whatever your link is to the ANZAC’s I thank you for pausing and remembering – we will remember them.