Monday, April 25, 2011

ANZAC DAY - 96th Anniversary

We got up at 4 am this morning to attend the memorial observations of ANZAC Day.  A few devoted people organise this event every year, inviting representatives from the Australian, New Zealand, British and Turkish governments.  Despite the hour - the ceremony begins at 4.45 to meet the dawn, and to mark the time of the landings - there is always a good crowd.  I think, more than anything else, observing ANZAC Day makes us feel part of Australia, regardless of where we are.

A brief history - in 1915, the Turks held the Dardanelles, preventing the British and her allies from entering the Black Sea.  Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, authorised an assault at Gallipoli.  Intelligence was poor, navigation worse, and strategy seemingly non-existent:  some 11,000 British, Australian and New Zealand officers and men were killed or wounded on the first day of the campaign.

It was also a dreadful day for the Ottoman Empire, who lost around 14,000 men on 25th April, 1915.

The ceremony here follows the same pattern each year, including a reading by a Turkish official, of words by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and a commander of Ottoman troops at Gallipoli himself, at an ANZAC Day service held at Gallipoli in 1934 :

Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives...
you are now lying 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 far away countries
wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now living in our bosom
and are in peace.
Having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well.

There are the traditional laying of wreaths, the Last Post, and the minute's silence, followed by breakfast.  As most of the attendees are headed for work, we do not observe the other traditions of two-up and beer, sadly.

They shall not grow 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.

Laurence Binyon 'For the Fallen'



Lisa said...

What a lovely post and gorgeous pictures. Thanks for sharing.


jabblog said...

It is so important that we remember these awful, auspicious days.
I liked these words particularly:
'There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours.'

Liz said...

Being that Vietnam Veterans are my heroes ... I love the ANZAC!