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War memorial honours nurses.

AFTER WORLD War 1 (WW1), the returning soldiers of Paraparaumu installed a pillar, complete with flag and plaque, beside the township's War Memorial Gates. These were built by local tradespeople and unveiled in 1924. Included near the top of the pillar was a plaque that read: "This tablet, staff, and flag are dedicated to the Red Cross nurses. By the soldiers of the district."

Every year, as part of Anzac commemorations, two New Zealand Red Cross representatives place a wreath to honour all Red Cross nurses--those who have died and those who continue to serve in areas of conflict all over the world.

The war memorial has recently been restored and upgraded. As part of the restoration, the local Returned and Services' Association decided to include a plaque for service personnel who have served overseas in more recent times with United Nations troops, or as part of coalition forces. This resulted in the nurses' plaque being removed from near the top of its own special column, and the UN troops and coalition forces plaque replacing it. The nurses' plaque has now been positioned near the base of the pillar, below knee height. Nurses who have contacted me are not happy about this, but are glad the plaque has not been lost altogether.

This year, New Zealand Red Cross (NZRC) will celebrate "100 years of caring". It was just after the outbreak of WW1 that NZRC swung into action with hundreds of volunteers undertaking training as first aiders, forming voluntary aid detachments, supplying clothing and comforts for our men in the trenches. Dozens of nurses volunteered to serve overseas and we know something of the horrors they faced from their letters and from recent publicity and TV dramas.

It is unusual for nurses to be cited on a war memorial. Nurses in the Kapiti region are proud of this special recognition. We will continue to honour our Red Cross nurses here and all over the world, for many years to come.

Wendy Smith, RN, Paraparaumu

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Title Annotation:Tell us what you think
Author:Smith, Wendy
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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