Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What a Way to Go

When three members of the New Zealand Defense Force were killed in Afghanistan recently, and their bodies were returned to New Zealand for burial, fellow members of the NZDF performed a traditional Maori haka in their honor. We've seen New Zealand rugby teams perform a haka on the field, but I've never seen this military version. It's spine-tingling. In addition to a tribute for their fallen comrades, the way these soldiers meet the hearse head-on is like a defiant challenge to death, angry that death has taken their friends. Who can't identify with that feeling? America is too young and civilized to have these kinds of passionate rituals embedded in our national DNA, but it's thrilling to see them where they exist. Though just for a moment at the end, it's comforting to see the Anglican (?) priest leading the hearse into the cemetery, representing the One who said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

The NZDF released this video on Aug 25, 2012. I've left the "related videos" option "On" -- following this video you'll see other NZDF military haka (plural is same as singular). If I met a demonstration like this on the battlefield I would immediately ask for terms of surrender. (If you have time, there are two great videos of the New Zealand All Black rugby team performing a haka before matches with Wales and France. The Wales team kept their distance, but give the French credit -- they went toe-to-toe with the All Black. Whew. )

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