11th of November was Armistice Day, also known as Remembrance Day. It commemorates the signing of the peace treaty at the end of World War I in 1918 in France. It is celebrated internationally, with wreath-laying ceremonies and a minute of silence at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, exactly when the treaty was signed.
For WWI, New Zealand sent 100,000 people to help the war effort, of whom 16,700 died and 40,000 were wounded. When the treaty was signed, the New Zealand Division was still in the French town of Le Quesnoy, which they had freed from German control five days earlier. That is very interesting for me, as I live in Cambridge, the sister-town of Le Quesnoy. It was only natural that I decided to go to the Cambridge Armistice event at Karapiro Mighty River Domain.
Armistice Day is a loud but very fun family event that commemorates not just WWI, but other conflicts too. From people who have fought in a war, to families with children to military enthusiasts – there’s something for everyone.
I built a model plane at the modelling table, and gazed jealously at the professional-style competition entries, which included some very detailed models with people, ruins, tanks, and even churning water. I particularly enjoyed the plane displays in the wind, the biplanes were great as always but I really loved the Fieseler Storch, a German plane that can hover like a hawk.
There were also battle re-enactments complete with tanks and other vehicles and the blasts of gunfire. There were displays of Medieval, Roman, and Viking weaponry in action. There was a great range over at the Military Market; there were quite a few cool helmets and I really liked the swords.
And that isn’t even brushing the surface for activities, if I could have I would have tried every activity there (who said it had to be only for kids?).
There were a lot of historical displays for many countries, showing all kinds of tents and equipment. There were cavalry horses and all kinds of vehicles. My enthusiastic tour guide showed me some rather interesting ones, from personnel carriers to tanks, but I’m afraid the range was so big, I didn’t absorb all the information! (After messing up the pop quiz I promise never to forget what the M8 Greyhound looks like from any angle ever again.)
In short, Armistice Day was awesome. Without the sacrifices of those who fought then and fight today, we would not be where we are today, and I cannot say enough how important it is to remember that.
Armistice events like the one in Cambridge provide a fun way to learn all about it and remember the fighters. And shoot things. Of course the wreath-laying ceremonies are important too, so if you didn’t attend one at your local war memorial, go now to look and set a reminder to go next year. And if you can get to Cambridge Armistice Day next year or have a similar event near you, you have to go. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
Lastly I’d like to thank my amazing companion for the day, who gave me all kinds of interesting trivia, and helped me navigate without getting lost in all the coolness!
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