Thursday, 4 October 2012

Everyone in Christchurch deserves a medal ~ earthquake aftermath remembrances

The long sequence of Christchurch's earthquakes have left their mark indelibly on all associated with the city: those resident at the time, those who, like me, grew up there and then moved away, as well as visitors who were passing through.  We all feel our losses deeply and look for ways to remember the wholeness that was Christchurch before the city was shaken up and its heart torn apart. 

We all deal with our losses in different ways: a while back I found myself getting quite sentimental about a pre-earthquake telephone book, which, after a brief struggle with myself, I managed to put firmly into the recycling bin! 

The memorial held in March of 2011 was attended by thousands, and this year on the first anniversary of The Big One, the February quake, residents found many ways to commemorate the occasion, and remembrance services were held throughout the country. 

But what now?  I have long thought that the people of Christchurch, as well as the rest of us who count ourselves as 'affected' in many and various ways, could well be served by having a commemorative medal, something to pin on on the anniversary day, which signifies our grief and as well as our recognition of others who have been similarly affected.  

So I was pleased to read in the Press that a gold medal has been presented to the people of Christchurch by the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand for "the many acts of conspicuous bravery and humanity" following the February 2011 earthquake.  It is on display in the City Council's civic offices.  Mayor Parker went on to say that:
"No matter what you were doing or where you were, everyone in this city on February 22, 2011, displayed great bravery and great courage."
The trouble is, there is only one medal and hundreds of thousands of all of us!  I think it would be good if the Council, or somebody in a like capacity made individual medals available, either of that one or some other commemorative medal which we could buy as a fund-raising measure.  I'm sure that many people would like to have one.  

If this idea is taken up I'd like to see it as more than just a lapel button or badge, and I'd like mine to have a section on it that signified that I'd lost someone I loved, someone who died on that day.  Other people may feel that their grief is about places and livelihoods rather an actual people, or even just the whole terrible episode, which I see as equally valid. 

I like that way that many returned servicemen, as well as their relatives and descendants, pin on service medals on ANZAC Day, so there are already traditions for this sort of thing.

So how about it?   I think I'll send a copy of this to Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker... (I did!)

Later notes:
(1) 10th October 2012 - I was touched to read about the police and other front line servicemen and women receiving citations (awards) for their role following the February 22 earthquakes.  About time!
(2) 24th Sept 2015 - Well, that was all a long time ago, but the aftermath continues, and for many who remain in Christchurch the courage required to keep on keeping on in the face of on-going disruption and delays is considerable.  For the record I did receive an acknowledgement from someone on the Christchurch City Council staff, but that was it.  Another good idea filed.

My other earthquake articles can be found via the following link:

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