2014 Memorial Day messages from Tarawa Veterans
When our troopship docked at the Wellington pier on June 9, 1943, we saw this beautiful city surrounding - us a city most marines knew little or nothing about.
We soon learnt that your country, contained citizens that would open their hearts and arms to us young guys; citizens who, without hesitation would stop us the streets and invite us into their homes, citizens who would drain their food stamps in order to provide a sumptuous meal for us.
Over the years, we of the Second Marine Division have tried to convey our love to your citizens and to your country.
We have loved you from the start dear people! It was apparent when we six Marines visited your beautiful country on May 3 2014 that you have loved and kept alive the life of the Marines that stayed in New Zealand over 70 years ago.
May God Bless and watch over the citizens and country of New Zealand.
Bless you and all those wonderful people. We love you beyond belief. It was wonderful to come back to your wonderful country – the country of our youth that we loved so much - and to learn that you still loved us!
Those three days could have stretched to three months, or three years, or a lifetime, and still wouldn't have been enough. There aren’t enough “thank yous” for the warm, generous and hospitable reception you afforded us six old Marines on our return.
Our three-day, whirlwind visit to Wellington and the Paekakariki was like a homecoming, a family reunion of distant “cousins”. It was a super, wonderful celebration!
On very short notice, you folks of the Kapiti Trust interrupted your schedules and took time to put together a program to welcome and entertain us that was superb! We appreciate your efforts, and felt treated royally!
We also found the “now” generation of New Zealanders to be as caring, warm, generous and hospitable as the generation that welcomed us to your shores in 1942 and 1943.
On this Memorial Day, and all days, may God continue to bless the “love affair” between the Marines and the people of New Zealand that began so many years ago.
US Veterans leaving Los Angeles on their way to Wellington, New Zealand, May 2014 - on their way to Tarawa.