Response to service ‘excellent’

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“We will remember them, we will remember them.”

About 350 people turned up to the World War 1 commemoration service at the war monument in Lower Thames St yesterday.

The service was held to remember the lives of all the personnel who had represented North Otago in the Great War between 1914-1918.

North Otago RSA president Ian McKay said he was overwhelmed by the amount of support shown by the public.

“We are incredibly happy with the amount of support the commemoration service received; we had no idea what sort of response we would get, but it was an very positive one.”

Mr McKay also wanted to thank the surrounding businesses for their support of the day.

“I went around all the businesses and let them know what was going on and they were all very supportive of us closing one lane of the road and making the area crowded for a short period of time.”

Mayor Gary Kircher said it was fantastic seeing such a positive response from the community.

“It’s great seeing all these people about and here to remember those who fought for North Otago and New Zealand. We are thankful for the support shown by the community,”

The service was opened by Father Wayne Healey, before two Waitaki Girls’ High School pupils led the national anthem.

Ian McKay gave the first reading of the service, and was followed by Waitaki National MP Jacqui Dean, before Mayor Gary Kircher gave his reading. Then Otago Southland RSA president Michael Blackstock and Palmerston Waihemo RSA president Russell Oliver each gave readings.

Mr Kircher said 100,444 New Zealanders, from a population just exceeding a million, served overseas between 1914-1918; 16, 697 were killed, with a further 41,317 wounded in action.

Mr Blackstock had a family member who fought in the war and said he was overwhelmed by the support from Oamaru.

“It’s great seeing so much support to remember the fallen. My grandfather would be proud.”

He said Mr Kircher had done a fantastic job with organising the service in such a short time.

By BRAYDEN LINDSAY

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD

CENTENARY COMMEMORATIONS: Hundreds of Oamaru residents attended the commemoration of the declaration of World War 1 at the War Memorial in Thames St yesterday.