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Thursday, 20 August 2015
Carol's ANZAC Experience......
We have a special guest writer tonight. Hope you enjoy her story.....
From the shores of Yerrabi Ponds in Canberra’s north to the shores of ANZAC Cove - there is a peacefulness that reaches across the horizon like the waves dancing lightly along the waters edge. The bloodstains have been washed away 100 years ago and now the butterflies’ dance amongst where the wild flowers and rosemary grows. The fields of bright yellow sunflowers that line the highway for hundreds of miles were spectacular on my way down the peninsular and its battlelfield history was lurking in the dark recesses of my mind.
On this distant shore - at ANZAC Cove - I reminisce on the recent 100th Commemoration of the ANZAC's. I dipped my feet into the beautiful turquoise Aegean Sea thinking of those young (and not so young) boys and men and what they did for us, fighting for our freedom. I am overcome with emotion as a wave of serenity washes over me and ripples in the water cross to nearby inlets of glistening brown and gold coloured pebbles making up the foreshore beach.
The day is bathed in sunshine warming the many war grave cemeteries and remembrance areas, the graves of young soldiers march through the sands of time. From Embarkation Pier along the coast to Ari Burnu, Beach cemetery to the rise of Pluggers Plateau then further up to Lone Pine, Walkers Ridge to The Nek, Baby 700 and Chunuk Bair it is Shrapnel Valley that holds a special meaning to me as I attempt to find a relative – my Great Uncle, brother of my Great Grandmother, Peter Ziesser, who was a casualty in the Lone Pine assault campaign. Astonished but pleased, I find the marker I am looking for. I am covered in goose bumps, finding myself very emotional and silently say a pray of thanks whilst shedding a tear or two for the unmet family member who died at the age of 19. RIP Trooper Peter Ziesser. There are 527 Australian and 56 New Zealanders remembered here.
This is one of the saddest legacies of war - not knowing family. It changed the lives of thousands of women and their families for ten score years and more.
Next stop was the Lone Pine cemetery. Walking around here I see a tribute to the youngest Australian boy who died, only 14. So many names showing the harsh realities of war, but in peaceful garden settings to be remembered by. Walking along part of the nearby track and seeing signs of trenches and the climb they faced from the beach, brings to life the harsh realities these soldiers endured day by day, night by night. Further special 100 commemorative ceremonies will take place here between 6-8 August too.
Who knows how many are not mentioned, maybe more than a few, however in the hearts of those family and friends that still miss them - their names will always hold true. Fear not that they have been forgotten on the lands of this distance shore; their spirits are at peace and are well tended in the beautiful gardens forever more.
No ANZAC tale could be complete unless you also take the time to reflect on what happened to those brave Turkish soldiers who stood strong to hold the line to defend their country against invasion. The 57th Battalion, as they were known back then, fought courageously to protect their homeland amidst the battle din - amongst the men was the young Colonel Mustafa Kemal. Colonel Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) is renowned throughout the land for his compassion and commitment to peace. Many statues of this famous soldier and statesman were seen not only here but around Turkey as well.
As a child I remember reading and hearing at ANZAC services the words below and to stand there, to see and feel this living peace legacy makes them even more profound and relevant as we continue to work for global peace.
"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 died 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. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well. Ataturk 1934".
Ataturk delivered these special words to some battlefield visitors from Australia, New Zealand and Britain in 1934. I get goose bumps just thinking about these incredible words. They are wonderful, poetic and evocative but also very reassuring words.
As the sun slowly sank on this awe and inspiring day - I sat and reflected on what I want to say - to our loved ones back home on that other now distant shore and to my new companions on this unique and incredible tour.
I came to honour our ANZAC's and to fulfill a lifelong yearning and what I received has being so much more and full of learning. 100 years on we stand together in peaceful harmony. We are united in International Friendship for the entire world to see with sincere and heartfelt gratitude for all the lives laid down for us and our freedom. This was an exceptional, emotional experience I will never forget.
On a final note, I hope that I can do the following poem justice with the translations. It helps to understand the sacrifices of the Turkish People and our Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) in ways that I could not have imagined until coming here and seeing and feeling it for myself.
The Dur Yolcu Memorial on the hillside above Kilitbahir - Dardanelles side of the Gallipoli Penninsular was where 87,000 died and over 164,000 were wounded. The words etched on the hillside come from the Turkish poet Necmettin Halil Onan (1902-1968).
The English translation comes via the www.anzacsite.gov.au
Dur Yolcu! Bilmedan Gelip Bastigin
Stop Wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground
Bu Toprak, Bir Devrin Battigi Yerdir
You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies;
Egil De Kulak Ver, Bu Sessiz Yigin
Bend down and lend your ear, for this silent mound
Bir Vatan Kalbinin Attigi Yerdir
Is the place whre the heart of a nation sighs
Bu Issiz, Golgesiz Yolun Sonunda
To the left of this deserted shadeless lane
Gordugun Bu Tumsek Anadolu'nda
The Anatolian slope now observe you well;
Istiklal Ugrubda, Namus Yolunda
For liberty and honour, it is, in pain,
Can Veren Mehmed'in Yattigi Yerdir
Where wounded Mehmet laid down his life and fell.
Bu Tumsek, Koparken Buyuk Zelzele
This very mound, when violently shook the land,
Son Vatan Parcasi Gecerken Ele
When the last bit of earth passed from hand to hand,
Mehmed'in Dusmani Bugdugusele
And when Mehmet drowned the enemy flood,
Mubarak Kanini Kattigi Yerdir
Is the spot where he added his own pure blood.
Dusun Ki, Hasrolan Kan, Kemik, Etin
Think, the consecrated blood and flesh and bone
Yaptigi Bu Tumsek, Amansiz, Cetin
That made this mound, is where a whole nation,
Bir Harbin Sonunda Butun Milletin
After a harsh and pitiless war, alone
Hurriyet Zevkini Tattigi Yerdir
Tasted the joy of freedom with elation.
The lines written into the hillside asks us to stop and consider the ‘mound’ of earth that is the Gallipoli peninsular. Here beats the heart of a whole epoch or period of Turkish history and national life. In Turkey you only need to quote the first two lines for the sentiments of the whole poem to be recalled.
May we all remember the sacrifices on both sides and continue to work towards global peace.
Lest we forget!