Thursday, 25 April 2013

ANZAC Day - An Open Letter

An open letter to all those who plan to attend ANZAC Day services in Gallipoli in 2015:

2015 will mark 100 years of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops in Gallipoli and you are very fortunate to be able to attend this event.  I do have a few things to ask of you and also to please remember you are attending a Memorial Service.  It is not a party where you stay up the whole night and "grog on" and wave the flag and generally act like some Yobbo.  It is a Memorial Service.

During the ANZAC Day eve, sit there quietly with your friends.  Sit and try not to make a sound, remembering how scary it would have been for the young men lying on the beach waiting for dawn, to attack.  Think how they would hide the flame from a match prior to lighting their cigarette and also think what some of the thoughts might be going through their head.  Yes, on ANZAC Eve, sit very very quietly and think of the terror these young men would unknowingly run into.

And remember, you are in another country.  

This is the flag of Turkey.  This is the flag of the country we invaded and where we lost so many young men.  8,700 Australians, 2,700 New Zealanders (Wikipedia) lost their lives in the ANZAC landing and we didn't progress a mile inland.

So when you are at ANZAC Cove for the Memorial Service remember we are being permitted to enter another Country for this Memorial, even though we were the enemy.  Keep your Australian flag waving for ANZAC Day parades back home here in Australia.  And please, show respect to the Country who is permitting us to attend Memorial Services there.

Also, in showing respect, leave the Anzac Cove as clean as it was when you arrived.  If you had room to bring in cans and food, then take the empty cans and wrapping paper with you.  You are at a Memorial site and not the local tip.  Be a good traveller and remember to "only take photos, and leave your footprints".

And finally, remember also the young men who lost their lives and pay respect.  My Great-Uncle was killed there aged 21 and is buried on Turkish soil.  And because of that I would also like us to remember the monument put up by the Turks to honour those who invaded their county.

Engraved forever at ANZAC Cove are these words from Kemal Ataturk, the Commander of the Turkish 19th Division during the Gallipoli Campaign and the first President of the Turkish Republic from 1924-1938:

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives. 

You are now living in the soil of a friendly country therefore rest in peace. 
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us 
where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. 
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. 
After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."


 They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


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