Well guys...finally home (its 2130hrs)...been a loooooong day, but a rewarding one.
One thing I have learned today...the best way to honour a Vet is not to put him on a pedestal...but to simply walk up to him, shake his or her hand, and say...Thank you for your efforts and sacrifices mate. Be prepared for some misty eyes though.
Well done Slim, yes 25 April commemorates the landings at Gallipoli during WW I. It was not just an Aussie and New Zealand "affair"...there were British, French, Canadian and Indian troops involved as well. It is easy to think that we are commemorating a victory, when in fact it was a resounding defeat at the hands of the Turks. What we are actually remembering is the sacrifices made by so many, and also the forging of an unbreakable bond between Australia and New Zealand.
The landing was a bit of a debacle because the British ships dropped the ANZACs at the wrong beach. What should have been a tough, but winnable fight, up gently sloping ground, turned out to be a battle to get off the beach and into the lea of the steep mountainous hills. Foxholes, trenches and dugouts were dug into the sides of the steep ground to try to gain some protection from the hellish cannon and machine gun fire. It was almost a turkey shoot for the Turkish soldiers.
The battle showed the strengths and weakness of many leaders and also produced the father of modern Turkey, and a brilliant strategist and leader, Kemal Attaturk. His words to the families of the fallen allied soldiers will live forever in the minds and hearts of, amongst others, Aussies and New Zealanders...
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.
Certainly in my mind, these are the words of a compassionate and honourable leader and foe. A man who deserves saluting.
The Ode is recited most every night in RSL Clubs around Australia, and also at Memorial Services for the fallen. I have highlighted in BOLD
the section that is recited:
The Ode comes from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in the Winnowing Fan; Poems of the Great War in 1914. The verse, which became the League Ode was already used in association with commemoration services in Australia in 1921.
FOR THE FALLEN
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea,
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.
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.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,
They sit no more at familiar tables of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires and hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.
As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are stary in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
LEST WE FORGET