Monday, April 25, 2011

Anzac - our real Australia day

I have only been in this country for 15 years, yet Anzac day always reduces me to tears. It is an amazing day when the whole nation stops to remember all those who sacrificed their lives to protect this wonderful country, and also to celebrate those who returned and who struggled to resume their lives. 

It is wonderful to see all those people going to the dawn services or making pilgrimage to Gallipoli, France, Korea, Vietnam. What is more amazing, the numbers seem to be increasing.

I recently 'rescued' a book by Alan Moorehead called "Gallipoli". The book was published in 1956 and what struck me was this description of Gallipoli:

"For nearly fourty years the cemeteries have been tended with great devotion by a Major Millington, an old Australian soldier. He has a curious existence, for at Chanak on the Narrows, where he has his house, he is in a Turkish military area and may not move more than a thousand paces in any direction without escort. However, the young Turkish conscripts accompany him willingly enough as he goes over the penninsula month by month and year by year to supervise his staff of local stonemasons and gardeners. ...[], the Turkish gardeners work well; no wall around the French and British cemeteries is allowed to crumble, no weed is anywhere allowed to grow, and now in the nineteen-fifties the gardens are more beautiful than ever. Yet hardly anyone ever visits them. Except for occasional organized tours not more than half a dozen visitors arrive from year's end to the other. Often for months at a time nothing of any consequence happens, lizards scuttle about the tombstones in the sunshine and time goes by in an endless dream." 

What a contrast to what we've seen today. As the author of this article says, today certainly felt like our real Australia day.

Lest we forget.

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