Anzacs remember ancestors in Turkey
Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders gather at a dawn service in Turkey’s Çanakkale province.Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders gathered at a dawn service yesterday in Turkey’s western province of Çanakkale to commemorate their ancestors who died in the Gallipoli campaign in World War I. The visitors spent the night at Anzac Cove, the spot at which Australia and New Zealand forces landed on April 25, 1917, before a ceremony held at dawn.
Speaking at the ceremony, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to the 8,700 Australians who died during the Anzac campaign, describing how, so far from home, they and their comrades “longed for the shape and scent of the gum and the wattle.”
“So this is a place hallowed by sacrifice and loss. It is too, a place shining with honor, and honor of the most vivid kind,” Gillard said, addressing around 6,000 people, most of whom spent the night at the cove in their sleeping bags. “A place where foes met in equality and respect, and attained a certain nobility through their character and conduct.”
Some two-thirds of the 130,000 fatalities during the campaign were Turkish, but there was no lasting animosity between opposing sides, Gillard said. “The Turkish honored our fallen and embraced them as their own sons,” she said. “And later they did something rare in the pages of history -- they named this place in honor of the vanquished as Anzac Cove. We therefore owe the Republic of Turkey a profound debt. No nation could have better guarded our shrines or more generously welcomed our pilgrims. A worthy foe has proved to be an even greater friend.”
Speaking at the same ceremony, New Zealand Veteran’s Affairs Minister Nathan Guy said the bravery of the soldiers that fought at Gallipoli remains “etched in our psyche.” “Gallipoli is widely regarded as a significant milestone in the emergence of our unique New Zealand identity,” said Guy. “The human cost of that campaign and the fighting on the western front left no community untouched in our small country. In remembering the suffering, the loss on both sides, let us commit ourselves to working for a world where differences between nations can be resolved without resorting to war. That is the way we can best honor those men who fought and died here.”