Today I’m joined by Feana Tu’akoi, author of the picture book, Lest We Forget. Feana tells us about her Anzac memories and why she wrote her story.
When I was a kid, war horrified me. The terror, hardship and ruined lives – it seemed like such a stupid way to sort out our countries’ differences. I didn’t want any part of it. And I definitely didn’t want to celebrate it.
But I was a brownie and then a girl guide in small town South Canterbury. So, every year I had to march in the ANZAC parade.
I hated it – all those speeches, raving on about the brave soldiers who fought for victory. How could it be a victory when so many people died? What about the fathers, brothers and sons, on both sides, who never came back? What about the people who did come back, but were permanently damaged? I thought we should have been able to find a better way.
When my family moved to the North Island, I stopped going to the parades. But then I studied history at university. I talked to people who were involved in World War II and I realised that things weren’t as black and white as I’d thought.
Lots of people actually wanted to go to war, for lots of different reasons. They thought that they were protecting their families and helping to make the world a better place.
So my husband, Sione, and I went along to a Dawn Parade. I was shocked. Nobody talked about how glorious war was, or even that it was the right thing to do. They just talked about how important it was for us to remember, so that we could all continue to live in peace.
That was when I realised. We weren’t there to celebrate war. We were there, Lest We Forget. And that’s why I wrote this book. We need to remember the past, so we can make better decisions in the future.
I think that the next generation is smart enough to do just that. And that’s why I dedicated this book to my kids.
Feana Tu‘akoi, March 2012.