Why Anzac Day moves me

Dave Mollard

Anzac Day moves me.

I think about the soldiers who went away as members of the British Empire and who came back as New Zealanders. I think about my Grandfather who served in Italy. I think about my shipmates I served with in the Navy and I think about the people I know who are still serving. But since a visit to Gallipoli a few years ago, I also think about the Turks.

It was not until I climbed through the hills of Anzac Cove, surrounded by fellow Kiwis and Aussies, making a pilgrimage to one of our most holy sites, that I realised its about more than the sacrifice our ancestors made.

It’s also about the foundation of another great country and their amazing display of grace to us.

In 1934, Ataturk, one of the Turkish army officers in Gallipoli, who later become the first leader of Modern Turkey, wrote an open letter to the mothers of the dead soldiers.

“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.”

I also think about how we would react if other countries invaded New Zealand, killed thousands of our soldiers and every year since, they wanted to commemorate the battle on our shores.

Because in essence, that’s what we did in Turkey. Yet, somehow, they not only respect our traditions, but they also actively participate in them, standing along side us as we remember.

Lest we forget.


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