Friday, 25 April 2008

ANZAC Day 2008

Today is ANZAC day, when Australians and New Zealanders, as well as Cook Islanders, Niueans, Samoans and Tongans, remember the soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who participated in the Gallipoli landings of the Dardanelles Campaign during the first World War especially the 4,059 who gave their lives and more than 24,000 who were wounded.

In many ways this day has become more of a symbol of Australian independence than Australia Day itself, it has become a time of year when Australian politicians make statements about becoming a Republic and indulge in varying degrees of pom bashing. What they fail to realise is that most Brits couldn't care less whether Australia becomes a republic or not and view Their inability to ditch the Union Flag after over one hundred years of independence with mild amusement.

In contrast, the people of those nations mark the day with the kind of respect that is hard to find in the UK for any of our National Holidays or days of remembrance and are, generally, a credit to their respective countries.

In Turkey that campaign is known as Çanakkale Savaşları, as the defeat of the initial naval attack was most important; the significance of the campaign is deeply embedded in the national psyche as it is one of the key points in the rise of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Turkey has good cause to remember the 56,000 who died defending their country.

It is a matter of regret that it in the UK and France, who had 21,000 and 10,000 men killed respectively, that their casualties have become seen as minor losses in a minor campaign compared to the vast numbers who lie under the fields of Belgium and France.

It seems appropriate to end with the words of Mustafa Kemal that are inscribed on the memorial at 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 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.
Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

1 comment:

FlashBangBob said...

As an Aussie living in Australia, the true meaning of Anzac Day and support for the RSL (returned services league) has never been stronger. However, some pro Republican factions of the media and Government seem to use Anzac Day to stir up the debate. This in turn detracts from the true spirit of Anzac Day.

I think that if it could be demonstrated that Australia becoming a Republic would result in some great economic or constitutional benefit then it might get the support of myself and the majority of Australians but for some to make statements like, "we need to throw off the shackle of colonialism" suggests that they are the ones living in the past.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the largest migrant population in Australia and percentage of new migrants each year are British. So unless all the Brits that are calling Australia home are also closet Republicans - which I doubt, I think that there is little chance of it becoming a reality in the foreseeable future and Republicans should air their views on a more appropriate day such as Australia Day.