ANZAC Day Column - While away your tears

Articles
Saturday, April 25, 2015

In 1934 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, President of Turkey, speaking to an official Australian, New Zealand and British party visiting Anzac Cove made the following moving tribute to all those who had lost loved ones at Gallipoli.

"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."

On Saturday New Zealand paid tribute to veterans who served in New Zealand’s Armed Forces at ANZAC Day ceremonies around the nation. ANZAC Day is a day to stand together and remember the New Zealanders who lost their lives serving as part of the Australia New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) that landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and all those who have served and paid the ultimate price defending our freedoms.

When I was younger I remember stories of my great, great uncle, John French who fought and was killed during the Battle of the Somme in France in 1916. It was occupied by Germany at the time and he fought alongside Kiwi and Australian soldiers who had survived Gallipoli as well as the British and French. He is now buried in an unmarked grave in Somme.

More than 2700 New Zealanders lost their lives serving as part of the Australia New Zealand Army Corps that landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, in New Zealand’s first major engagement of World War I. While Gallipoli was ultimately a terrible defeat for the allies, stories from ANZAC cove have become a legend of sacrifice, and the day reminds us of an important episode in New Zealand history.

Great suffering was caused to our small country, but the Gallipoli campaign showcased attitudes and attributes like bravery, tenacity, and practicality that helped New Zealand define itself as a nation. It is difficult to imagine the human suffering, hardships, and horrors they endured. For this reason it’s important to honour these men and women and ensure they receive recognition for the service and sacrifice they gave to our country for the freedoms we enjoy today.

ANZAC Day is an increasingly important occasion and over the past few years it has been heartening to witness the growing number of New Zealanders attending ANZAC services. I am proud to say as my children grow older they too recognise the importance of it and for the last few years have attended the Dawn Service with me.

This year the day will have a special significance, as we also mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 1915. To mark this special anniversary, and the lives which were lost at Gallipoli, all around our city a number of special ceremonies and events were held for local people to attend and commemorate this special occasion with the rest of the community.
On Saturday I was privileged to attended the dawn service at Ohinemutu War Memorial, the ANZAC Day Civil service at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre and the OneChance ANZAC Kite Festival at the Ngongotaha Domain from midday onwards. These ceremonies attracted record numbers of people with seating for up to 3,000 being needed for the dawn service.

"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."

Lest we forget.