The sacrifice of life "For Your Country" is a hugely emotive and poignant statement recognised throughout the world by those who remain attending services in their memory.
For New Zealanders ANZAC Day the 25th April marking the landing at Gallipoli in 1915 is even more significant as it is generally regarded as the defining moment of the birth of a nation. On no other occasion, not even the sight of an All Black haka, is our national pride more evident.
The irony of Gallipoli however is that the heroics that we so commend were performed in an arena of futility. There was an enormous loss of life attacking a small, poorly ruled country on the other side of the globe whose only crime appeared to be its majority support for Germany rather than the British. Worst of all, the attack failed, through mismanagement, to attain its objectives of securing the Dardenelles.
Gallipoli was a humiliating loss.
So should we not learn the lessons of history?
Vietnam took 57000 American lives "protecting" us from the "YellowPeril".
The invasion of Iran, and the abduction of Saddam, were justified supposedly for their harbouring of chemical weapons.
We are also selective in our theatres of war - where our Western "interests" are protected we have failed to act.
The world stood by in South Africa as 20 million people were cruelly oppressed by a minority Government.
In Palestine, we continue to ignore a belligerent Jewish state.
The Ukraine poses our next crisis.
Will the memory of our bravery at Gallipoli demand that we support the notion that Russia is the aggressor supporting terrorists in the Eastern Ukraine - as portrayed by our Allies in Europe and America - or will we accept the historical fact that the crisis was prompted by the forcible eviction of a democratically elected Head of State by those sympathetic to alliances with the West?
The world is now a very small house. We can't isolate ourselves in small factions. Our interdependence demands tolerance of alternative points of view.
With a seat on the Security Council beckoning New Zealand's stance should be quite clear.
We will stand between opposing nations for peace, but not for one side to oppose another.
We will not forget - but we will not repeat the mistakes of the past.
War is never a humane solution to our differences.
Hopefully the legacy of past sacrifice is a universal acceptance of the need for peace.
A legacy for which we can remain proud.