My Dearest Americans,
This post has been on my mind for awhile. I haven't been so sure about how to write it, though. Or how to find the right words to express how I feel. I'm not even sure if I have found them below. Hopefully, there will be those that understand what I'm trying to say.
During my time here in the US, I've received many questions, comments and misconceptions about New Zealand. The majority of those have been rather humorous, however there have also been some darker ones as well.
Among those have been ... "Why do you foreigners hate us Americans so much?" .... " We saved your butts in WW1/WW2/Korea/Vietnam/etc" and "Nobody appreciates what America does."
Sadly, the above seems to be a fairly widespread belief, so I'd like to attempt to dispel those myths, at least from my perspective.
The above is a photo of my Great Uncle Stanley. He died on the 24th December, 1944, in atrocious weather on a muddy battlefield somewhere between Rimini and Ravenna, Italy.
He left NZ, on a troopship, sometime in 1940. If I remember family history correctly, he fought in Egypt, Crete and finally Italy.
He never returned home. Instead, he lies in Forli War Cemetery , along with 737 other Commonwealth war dead. He was 31 years old. He died just 6 short years before I was born.
My Uncle Arthur also fought in WW2. He was captured by the Germans and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp in Germany. He returned to NZ a very different man from the one that had left. He refused to talk about those experiences and spent a lot of his time alone, usually on a deserted beach, fishing. I can only begin to imagine what he must have gone through in those years.
At the start of WW2, NZ had a population of approximately 1,640,000 . Our Military dead, during that war came to 11,625 which amounted to the highest ratio of all the Commonwealth countries and the US. There were over 20,000 wounded.
The cost of financing the war effort was also high. NZ took part in all but 3 days of the 2179 days of WW2 and our overall contribution was 30% of our national income. That rose to 50% between 1942 - 1944.
NZ has taken part in most wars that have taken place since it became a nation. We currently have troops in Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world.
The above, may go somewhat towards explaining why my jaw clenches a bit, when I'm told that 'America saved my butt' and that 'I show no gratitude' and it may also explain similar reactions in other foreigners.
America could not have won WW2 all by herself. Neither could she have fought other battles alone. I think, that sometimes, in the glow of national pride, that simple fact gets forgotten. I don't even think that it's said with any intention to give offence, but still, it's like a slap in the face to those that have fought alongside the US.
I am so grateful to America for being there to help defend the freedoms that I enjoy. I am so grateful that there were Marines in the South Pacific region, to help defend NZ while our boys were overseas defending other countries. On ANZAC day (when NZ and Australia remember their war dead) I also remember the fallen from other countries, including the US.
Is it that Americans are not really aware of the role that other countries have played?
Does the rest of the World hate America ? In my experience, no. There are factions out there that do hate America, but those factions also hate anybody that is different from them, which often includes their own countrymen and 99.9% of the rest of the world.
Do we show gratitude to America? I can only answer that in terms of what I know about NZ. In Frank Kitts Park, Wellington, there is a plaque, that is dedicated to the Marines that were in NZ during WW2.
At Queen Elizabeth Park, just out of Wellington, there is this memorial to the US Marines. During WW2, this was one of the sites of a camp that housed 1000's of US Marines. They were there for R&R and also training. NZ was the last friendly country many of them ever saw.
There are also other memorials, to the US Marines, in other parts of New Zealand.
In Christchurch, NZ, there is also this memorial. It's made from beams from the World Trade Centre. They were gifted to Christchurch, by the City of New York One of only 5 places, outside of the US, that have received pieces of the WTC. It's known as The Firefighter's Memorial and is dedicated to all firefighters throughout the world. However, it is also known, locally, as the 9/11 memorial.
During fire season, here in the US, there are firefighting contingents from NZ and Australia helping fight the wildfires, which, incidentally, lays waste to the other claim I sometimes hear ... 'The US helps out other countries, but nobody helps the US out.'
On that note, I will bow out with something that my Grandmother used to say to me, when I complained that people didn't thank me for things I'd done.
"My dear child, to receive thanks, you must first give thanks."
A thankful Kiwi. :-)
14 hours ago