Custodians of remembrance

NEVER FORGET: RSA Ashburton president Merv Brenton, left, next to mcee Robert Aldridge at Armistice Day remembrance at Ashburton RSA.
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In 1918, on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month more than one million artillery pieces fell silent and World War I came to an end, Ashburton RSA president Merv Brenton says.

He was addressing the Armistice Day service on Saturday next to the Lone Pine in the grounds of the Ashburton RSA.

It was attended by mayor Neil Brown (who also spoke), deputy mayor Liz McMillan, veterans and returned service personnel, RSA members, army and air training cadets and members of the public.

Kim Vessey sung the national anthem, Gavin Hunt performed The Last Post, Ashburton Salvation Army’s captain John Stone did a reading and members of Compulsory Military Training and Ashburton cadets were among those to lay wreaths.

NATIONAL SONG: Kim Vessey, at right, sings the national anthem at the Armistice Day remembrance service.

Brenton said the silencing of the guns was ‘‘a time of huge relief, a time to celebrate with the knowledge that loved ones would be returning home for good.

‘‘All the horrendous killing stopped. More than 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas in WWI and approx 18,500 were killed. But as history and current conflicts tells us that wasn’t the end of the fighting from all the different warring factions, as the news shows us daily, the atrocities and the human life lost and the chaos created is still happening,’’ he said.

HEALTHY GROWTH: The Lone Pine sits on the grounds of the Ashburton RSA.

‘‘As custodians of remembrance we have chosen this quiet place for the purpose of remembering … this venue very significant as this tree behind here is a Turkish Red Pine grown from seed sourced from the Gallipoli Peninsular where many of our ANZAC’s lost their lives seeking world peace.

‘‘It was planted in 2016 to commemorate our centennial.

‘‘This tree at the RSA is our living memorial to those unfortunate heroes who lost their lives there.’’

WREATH TRIBUTE: Corporal Rachel Hoekstra, left, of 24 Squadron Air Training Corp with 2nd lieutenant Kristen Harris, of Ashburton Cadet Unit lay a remembrance wreath.

Brenton said humanity today should reflect on the effects of war – the human lives lost, those living but suffering from the traumas of war and the huge cost of rebuilding essential infrastructure in communities.

‘‘To all the men and women who went to war all those years ago, to those that have been involved in recent conflicts, to those that stayed and kept our great country safe for us, and for defending our place in paradise.

‘‘Thank you so much. We will never ever forget you. You will always be remembered.’’