Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Remembering the ANZACs

Early yesterday morning, along with 17,000 other people, I experienced the Dawn Service on the beach front of Gallipoli. Commemorating the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the beach, 90 years ago. A truely amazing, important, and unforgetable experience.

We left Istanbul early in the morning on Sunday for the long bus trip down to Gallipoli coast. Lunch in Gallipoli town itself, on the ocean, before heading down to the ANZAC sites.

After the first bus jam of the experience, we drove down to the site of the service to see where we will be, the set up, and view the Sphinx that confronted the soldiers upon their arrival that morning, 90 years ago. There were many people staking their place on the grass already for the night.

The tour then headed down along to a couple of the cemerteries along the coast, including Anzac Cove. Walking along the headstone of the soldiers, most so young, younger than me, was quite emotional. The reality of what ANZAC Day really means sunk in completely. The young lives gunned down before they even got their lives started, bravery one can only imagine, all for the fight I will never understand. I have heard and read about WWI over and over, and don't think I will ever understand why, and who was fighting with and against who, and what it was all for. And the loss of lives so young, the end of such promise - soaking that in was really full on.

Chatting amongst some of the group, especially after Anzac Cove, we decided we wanted to stay now, at the Service site and get our spot. The atomsphere around lead up to decide to have a bit of a tour revolt, and ditch going to the bar - which we can and do anywhere anytime - and 8 of us grabbed our stuff there and then and headed down to the grass for the Service. Much to the disgust of the rest of the bus, and the shock of our un-understanding tour guide.

Staking our place right at the front of the crowd, right at the walkway up to the stage area, we settled in for the night. The electricity around, with Aussies and Kiwis that had all travelled over in various ways, was awesome. The time actually didn't seem to be as long as it was. People playing cards, complaining of the cold, a group of lads near us doing the usual funny Aussie lads routine all night, chats with our groups. Was amazing.

Being moved from laying down, to sitting, to squishing up close, to let all the people into the area, the night was over soon enough, and the Prelude to the Dawn Service that we had actually seen during the night, began. The music, especially the digeridoo piece, the poetry, a diggers letter home before the battle and his death, and then the impressive light show, which actually lit up the cliff and sphinx to represent the coming light, was a prefect build up.

The officials had arrived, including a walkby our walkway by Little Johnnie, rock star style. I was close enough to have shaken his hand, and had my chance - but don't think I could have done it and kept my mouth shut - and I understand that there is a time and place. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales must have snuck past, cos I didn't see him walk by till they were all leaving after the Service. But I did see Angelo.

The Service was beautiful, and so significant. Howard acknowledged the cutting down of young lives, and thus ending a potential life and his life strain, which I had been thinking about as I walked along the headstones earlier. Prayer, the anthems, and the moving poem penned by Turkish Anaturk. Was so moving and unforgetable. A bit too hard to put down in words, really.

Words of Ataturk
Posted by Hello

In the sun after the Service, we gathered all our things and headed off on the long walk to Lone Pine for the Australian Service. After a massive jam on the climb up (turned out every bugger was stopping for the food stalls set up on the walkway up, reducing the flow up to a trickle), we reached the top to discover the Lone Pine area full. Buggered from our long night out under the star, we sat outside the service in the sun, instead of fighting the crowd for standing room only.

The Dawn Service was what it was all about for me, and I am so blown away that I got to have this experience this year, being the 90th anniversary. (more photos)


  1. God you get around a bit don't you?? I'm not going to feel sorry for you again the next time you're complaining about work....
    So Turkey sounds great. I'm jealous. As for me - I got a place in college - whoo hoo!! I've got a bank holiday weekend coming up and I'm going on the piss. Can't wait. Steve called his baby Ailbhe (pronounced Alva) The weathers better - things are looking up. Slan Liz xxxxx

  2. Sounds awesome Tash. I would have been a blubbering mess though!! I was looking out for you on the coverage but didn't see you.
    You said you "gathered all your things" and then left...? That's not what they're saying over here - apparently you guys were pigs and left all your dirty rubbish behind!! We're all ashamed!!!
    They neglect to tell us that no bins were provided though!!

  3. The mess was really revoltıng afterwards. Our groups certainly pıcked up all of our things. We had actually discussed the idea that this may be the bıggest gathering of people where no mess was left afterwards thinking that Aussies are usually really good wıth their rubbish. Especially the age group that were there. How wrong we were.

  4. I appreciated your account of the Anzac Service - it is amazing how generations continue to revere the fallen in this battle. My grandfather was one of the lucky few who fought at Gallipoli and lived to tell the tale - and hence myself and many are other of his descendants are alive today to appreciate what he and thousands of not so lucky soldiers did for us.

  5. To be honest, Anzac Day didn't mena all that much to me when I was little. I remember sitting bored through the services at Primary school. Also, I don't know of a relative that served there.

    But now, after growing up a bit, and a guess getting myself educated (!!), it means a lot. The sacrifice those people made - and I think it means all that much more when you reach the age that a lot of the soldiers were when they landed and were killed - a big reminder of what it was all about.

    The Anzac legend can never die, with more and more young people making the pilgramage to Gallipoli. A very good thing.

    If we can all pause at least once a year to think of the horror of war, then hopefully we will remember it when making voting decisions.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...