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25 April 2011

Anzac Day


"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 lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.


Mustafa Kemal Atatürk."

These powerful words by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk are so poignant and never cease to bring tears to my eyes in their earnestness and sincerity.  These words by Atatürk also make me feel proud to be Turkish. 


 According to the visitors column which is at the end of the page, the flag counter says that this blog is being read by people from 49 different countries around the world. So, it is probable that not everyone will be familiar with the significance of Anzac Day or what it means in the national psyche of Australians and New Zealanders.   Although, "It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries."


"Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War One. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries.

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand. This is a rare instance of two sovereign countries not only sharing the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name.


History
Gallipoli campaignWhen war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a Federal Commonwealth for thirteen years. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, under a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk). What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Allied Gallipoli casualties included 21,255 from the UK, an estimated 10,000 dead soldiers from France, 8,709 from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand, and 1,358 from British India. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

 

Though the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives of capturing Istanbul and knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war, the Australian and New Zealand troops' actions during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an "Anzac legend" became an important part of the national identity in both countries. This has shaped the way their citizens have viewed both their past and their understanding of the present.

 
Turkey
In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. This was later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Canberra, and the Atatürk Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand.

 
"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 lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well. 
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk."

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