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Apr 25

ANZAC Day and the Power of Words

April 25th is ANZAC Day in Australia. It is the day when our current and retired servicemen and women march in honour of those who have served in Australia’s military forces during a variety of wars and conflicts but most significantly the battle of Gallipoli in World War I.

I have read quite a number of military history books in the past year as well as several based-on-fact youth fiction. I can highly recommend the following for anyone wanting to encourage an interest in Australia’s military history in their children:
The Donkey who Carried the Wounded by Jackie French
A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French
Heroes of Tobruk by David Mulligan
Angels of Kokoda by David Mulligan
Gallipoli: Reckless Valour by Nicolas Brasch

I always find the ANZAC service to be a very moving one, both because of the sentiments expressed and the emotional power of the music and words that are often recited. I am unable to resist the emotional pull of the bugler Lest We Forget Wreathplaying The Last Post and the words of Thomas Binyon’s poem For the Fallen always bring a tear to my eye.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Another frequently recited statement that I find incredibly stirring are the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the Turkish Campaign at Gallipoli in 1915 and later the President of Turkey. They were written in 1934 and appear on a memorial erected at Anzac Cove in 1990 and on the Kemal Ataturk Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra, Australia.

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 faraway 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 have heard both Binyon’s poem and Ataturk’s statement many times, yet they always stir emotion within me and I doubt their impact will ever fade.

Lest we Forget.

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1 comment

  1. Meredith

    It always amazes me how the Last Post followed by a minute’s silence and then Reveille can pull such a gamut of emotions. This is always a goosebump moment at ANZAC services.

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