Today New Zealand observed a national memorial service on the first anniversary of the devastating 6.3 earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch at 12:51 pm on February 22, 2011, with the loss of 185 lives, many of them from overseas, and the destruction of many buildings and thousands of homes. About 30,000 people attended the service and it was televised nationwide. We appreciate the condolences expressed by Hilary Clinton US Secretary of State and by His Royal Highness, Charles Prince of Wales. Children released 185 monarch
butterflies, a beautiful sight, in memory of those who were lost. The service had a strong religious component, the final blessing being given by the American lady bishop of Christchurch, [Victoria Matthews]. It is remarkable how in a nominally secular country, how religion comes to the fore in observing moments of national grief.
In New Zealand, “Lest we forget” is the refrain in "Recessional," sung as a hymn to the tune "Melita" ("Eternal Father, Strong to Save").