Wednesday, April 25, 2007


0704 Anzac Day
Originally uploaded by rooruu.

A quick assemblage of Australiana - an Akubra hat, deee-licious Anzac biscuits and well, you either noticed the fabric background or you didn't.

Anzac Day, for those not in the Antipodes, marks the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers (ANZAC=Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915, to fight a vain, expensive front which cost thousands of lives on both sides, Allies and Turks.

And yet the way in which it was fought defined and defines Australia - it's a sacred day on the Australian calendar, a public holiday when many begin the day at dawn services - the Anzacs landed at dawn - and/or attend the marches which travel the streets of the land, from the largest cities to the smallest rural towns. In any Australian town, you'll find a war memorial dating from WW1.

Watching the huge Anzac Day march through Sydney, you notice again the faces getting older - no WW1 veterans, WW2 veterans in their 80s and 90s - and yet the subtle, appropriate infiltration of younger generations.

A daughter here, no longer in the first blush of youth, wearing medals not won by her, but part of her heritage, marching with those who knew the one for whom she marches.

A son, or maybe nephew, wearing medals and marching with much older men.

A child, wearing medals with that sense of pride and occasion children can summon, hand in hand with a grandfather on a day neither will forget.

A younger person marching with a large framed photograph, the face of the one who isn't there to march as is their due.

As the soldiers pass away, it is right that their places be taken by those whose lives exist and exist in freedom because of the soldiers' work and commitment. And thus the Anzac Day march through Sydney will march on always, down through the generations, and we will not forget.

After the march, the ABC televises the dawn service from Gallipoli and among all the words, those of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk always ring most truly, catch the heart.

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.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

If you don't know about Gallipoli, one of the best introductions is this remarkable documentary: which I blogged about last year here.

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