For many of us Aussies a pilgrimage to Gelibolu (Gallipoli) is a must do in our lifetime. The area is steeped in history, an ancient history, a pained history and a history of heroism by the boys and men who left home yearning for adventure, ready to fight for their King and country only to lose their lives and lay buried far from home.
We visit the memorials at Çanakkale Şehitleri Anıtı (Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial), the Nek or Kanlisirt Anıtı (known to us as ANZAC Cove), and these memorials are a reminder that war is full of unsung heroes and, whether they were part of the Allied forces or a Turkish soldier, we remember the sacrifices that they made so we could live today in freedom. This bond between the Johnnies and the Mehmets was well expressed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkiye, who in 1934 made this uplifting and consoling comment to an official, Australian, New Zealand and British party visiting ANZAC Cove:
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.
Those words make hearts swell around the world in pride and are now an integral part of the Gallipoli story. I remember standing at the memorial at Kanlisirt Anıtı and I openly wept as I read those immortal words.
Tonight this news item passed my desk –
I felt sick to my stomach.
There were more photos but these appear to have been deleted.
Before we all jump the gun and turn into keyboard warriors (and believe me I was screaming blue murder and ready to call Karl Stefanovic who would fly over and single-handedly sort it out with The Powers That Be) the report attached to this photo states that the Canakkale Savaslari Tarihi group are undertaking maintenance and repair to the memorial due to natural erosion to the inscriptions and repair work and this work is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. Although I understand that the work may have needed to have been undertaken this memorial is held in extremely high regard by Australians and New Zealanders. I think that perhaps some discretion should have been taken by the officials undertaking this work to minimise the shock to visitors who have come to pay their respects.
I hope that the work is completed quickly and this site which is so important to all of us is returned to its former glory – for all our sakes.
(If anyone has any further information regarding this work please send me a link).
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Beautiful. I affiliate with this Aussie pride. I’d love to go and pay my respects to this memorial!
Those were certainly very magnanimous words spoken by Atatürk to the families of soldiers who had invaded his country. And Turks are remarkably welcoming to us descendants of those invaders. Actually I feel ashamed when I think how difficult our governments (Australia and NZ’s) make it for Turks to even visit our countries.
As you say, that article is reporting that the memorials are undergoing maintenance – and I guess now, just after the Anzac Day crowds have gone, is probably the best time to do it.
We drove past it on our tour a few days ago Jane. It certainly looks very clean now but is cordoned off. We didn’t stop because it was Turkish tour and never the twain shall meet but according to M, all the foreign war graves are regarded by the Turkish state as foreign land and so only the commonwealth war graves commission is allowed to touch any of those. This, though, I am not sure if it is a Turkish monument and if it is would not be afforded the same protection. That said, since it contains the words of Ataturk is just as important to Turks.