- It's out in the country, surrounded by beautiful farmland and green hills. I'm not used to Anzac Day services where you can see cows and hawks.
- You also get to see a flyover by the Vintage Aviation Collection!
- It's a true community event. People bring their dogs. Someone had handpainted poppies onto the rocks in the field beyond the fence.
- It's for the wider community as well. Some people had travelled from as far as Hawkes Bay, Wanganui, Horowhenua and the Kapiti Coast.
- It's very personal. The roll of honour is read out for the nine names on the bridge, and after each name, family members go forward and lay wreaths for that person. Each year, one name is chosen and a relative gives a short biography of that person; this year it was Charles Harvey.
At yesterday's service, the Deputy French Ambassador, Clarisse Gerardin, gave a very moving speech about how her family had been caught between the front lines in World War One and eventually had to be rescued by the Red Cross and relocated to Switzerland. When they finally returned to their farm, it was to find the land almost unrecognizable. For years they worked at restoring it, but they were constantly ploughing up remnants of old shells and even mangled human bodies.
The service was also extra special this year for the new links forged between the bridge communities at Kaiparoro and Brooweena.
There's a lovely article about the bridge here. It makes the point that the Anzac memorial bridge is the country's only bridge built specifically as an Anzac memorial. It also has some wonderful family photos, including postcards sent home by Charles Harvey, some of which were read out at the Anzac Day service by a representative from his family.
Only one of the WW1 soldiers commemorated on the bridge, Arthur Braddick, left any direct descendants. His granddaughter said: "I think it's just such a lovely spot, if you stand on the bridge and look down the valley you can see the land Arthur was brought up on, and left from... it's really beautiful."