How great is it to see how many people are attending ANZAC Day services? After years of attending the dawn service in Wanganui I got lazy this year and went to an 11am service instead. The outdoor area (their car park) set aside at the Hobsonville RSA was bursting at the seams. In fact I reckon there would have been at least a hundred people who were destined to stand so far away they couldnt see anything of the service at all. However with speakers rigged up at least they could hear. But for someone who feels very strongly about the sanctity of this day (my father was a returned serviceman who died from injuries received in Egypt) it warms my heart to see the continual growth in numbers every year. Our guest speaker, a youngish Air Force officer – well he seemed young to me anyway – spoke very well and I was impressed to hear him including the Turkish people in his presentation. As he mentioned, three nations emerged from the blood of Gallipoli, New Zealand, Australia, and modern-day Turkey. Having visited Gallipoli a couple of years ago, I now realise just how much the Turkish people took our fallen young soldiers to their hearts. These words by Mustafa Kamal Attaturk, a soldier at Gallipoli and Turkey’s great statesman, are engraved on the Memorial at ANZAC Cove. They can’t help but bring tears to your eyes.
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now living 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.”
The RSA Ode
“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
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM”