Last year we attended a Memorial Day commemoration in America, the equivalent there of Anzac Day. This morning we attended this ceremony organised by the Kapiti U.S. Marines Trust and attended by various local dignitaries and U.S. Embassy personnel, as well as the public, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of U.S. Marines in New Zealand in 1942.
This was when NZ was at risk of a Japanese invasion, but NZ servicemen were overseas to confront the hegemony of Nazi Germany, so U.S. President Roosevelt had American troops take their place. They stayed for nearly three years. Some 15,000 were stationed on the Kapiti Coast (the majority at what was named Camp Russell, now Queen Elizabeth Park) before they departed for action in the Pacific — in which many lost their lives.
To mark the occasion, the trust arranged to have rebuilt and restored a hut used as accommodation in the camps (the work done by the Waikanae Beach Menzshed), and its dedication on the site close to the existing memorial took place at 11 am today.
Tomorrow there is another general service being held at midday in the Old St Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington. Because of the time difference, this coincides with the Memorial Day in the U.S.