The significance of Anzac Day to Australians has grown remarkably over the last decade. When I was growing up Anzac day parades were attended by a significant but small group of committed families and veterans. Pilgrimages to Gallipoli were uncommon. The media coverage was on the ABC
Tomorrow the coverage will be on every channel with live crosses to Turkey, France and Afghanistan. 7000 tickets to Anzac cove have been sold out for months. Thousands will line streets around Australia to celebrate our courageous veterans as the true heroes of Australia.
When we went to Turkey in 2009 Gallipoli was not high on our agenda. We were happy to visit but it was not a pilgrimage for us. At one level we both thought the whole thing had been beat up by the media looking for a story. Whilst not changing our mind on the way media affects culture, we both were deeply affected by our visit to Anzac Cove.
The area is thoroughly untouristified for 300 days a year. The beaches where the Anzacs stormed are still beaches. The bushland remains bushland. Apart from a road and grace sites, the Turkish people have left this area untouched. I like that.
The biggest thing that struck me was how devastating Gallipoli was for the Turkish. The turks lost 80,000 men defending the invasion of the Australian, NZ and British. We rightly remember the courage of our men. The Turks rightly remember the courage of theirs. Gallipoli is full of memorials to both sides. The tourist guides speak with admiration of the courage of the Turks and the allied forces. Our guide spoke about how both sides fought, “they were men at war who behaved like men not animals. They fought to win at all costs yet when the fighting ceased they treated each other with honour. It was the last war where this has happened.”
On Anzac day we promise to never forget the courage of our fallen soldiers. It is also appropriate that The Turks don’t fail to remember theirs.