Home > 2011 Posts > Paid Dues

Paid Dues

My Kiwi friend, John, and I were standing at the starboard rail of our ship sailing slowly west in the Dardanelles. Gliding past was the tall concrete memorial the Turks had placed at Gallipoli.

Gallipoli memorial on a hazy day

John shook his head sadly and said, “I went there yesterday to pay my respects. Lots of our boys died on that ground.” Then he told me an even sadder thing that I hadn’t heard before, despite my being an avid history buff.

“Did you know,” John continued, “that New Zealand lost a higher percentage of its people in World War I and World War 2 and Viet Nam than any other allied country?”

I was shocked and said, “I had no Idea. That must have had a huge effect on the folks back home.”

New Zealand

John nodded. “It affects our foreign policy right up to this day. Most of us Kiwi’s think we’ve given too much to the rest of the world and gotten almost no appreciation for it. Now, we look at where we are on the map and say to ourselves that it’s better to let someone else step up next time.”

As that monument to a long-forgotten war slid astern, I thought to myself, Yup. New Zealanders have more than paid their dues.

We sailed on into the Aegean and I couldn’t help but think that by the historic Kiwi standard of courage, principle and selflessness, Western Europe today qualifies as ethical slime mold. At best.

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