ANZAC

22 04 2011

I’m in Turkey. ANZAC cove is in Turkey (albeit on the far west of Turkey, ie the other side). ANZAC day is in a few days, but I’m not going to be there. I have been surprised that many Turks know the word (ok, acronym) ANZAC. When we meet, most ask me where I’m from. When they work out it isn’t Austria (“ahh, Spreken zie Deutsch!”, “no, no, awrstr-AL-ia”), they often come back with “ANZAC!”. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, what took place is as much a part of their history as it is mine.

I think it’s great that we remember what took pace at Gallipoli and at the same time all soldiers that fought in wars. War is a terrible thing, but for the most part, the average soldier doesn’t have any say in what is happening or what stupid cause they may be dying for (without me passing judgement on the morality of any particular war). So I think it’s good that we remember the sacrifice by celebrating a slaughter of our own kin, rather than trying to promote the activity as a glorious event.

Having said that, I’m a bit concerned by the way we do it. Australians on tour have a bit of a reputation of a hard drinking, hard partying bunch, which is fine. It helps us keep our reputation in the world. But it does seem a bit out of place on a day of remembrance of a battle that was basically a massacre. Several Turks have also had this discussion with me. They say (to paraphrase) “Why come all the way here to drink all night, smoke weed and screw when you are commemorating a battle in the morning? We have more respect for your soldiers than you do”. Clearly not all who go to Gallipoli behave like this, but enough do that this is the reputation we get.

I’d like to be there. But I wont be. I’ll do my own thing, away from the tourist industry that has emerged to service the hordes of Aussies and New Zealanders who come to watch, blearily, the sun rise in a place that many have no direct connection to.

Lest we forget.


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