April 25th in New Zealand and Australia is ANZAC day. You can read more about ANZAC day in the 2014 previous post, in last year’s ANZAC post, or here at the New Zealand History Website. But in short, ANZAC day marks the day that the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Gallipoli in World War 1. It was an 8 month campaign that was a bit of a disaster. While last year marked the 100 years since the beginning of that campaign, this year marked the 100 since the very first ANZAC service, so a few friends and I headed along.
While there weren’t as many people at the Auckland War Memorial Mueseum as there were last year, there was still a very large crowd, and we we stood off to one side and watched the service from a screen. It started at 6am, and went for about 40 minutes. Last year we were blessed with a clear morning, being able to see the sun rise up over the hill, but this year it was a little cloudy. It was only on our walk back to the car (which was parked about 1km away) that we really saw the sun.
While I don’t believe war is ever the answer – ever – I do think it’s important to remember the past and the mistakes that we made, and the people that lost their lives because of those mistakes. I won’t say much more on the matter, but I do think it’s also important to remember that it wasn’t just the ANZACs who died at Gallipoli, and it wasn’t just us who lost family members and loved ones. An ‘estimated 250,000 Turkish and Arab troops were killed or wounded defending Gallipoli’ (NZ History website) and they all had family members and loved ones. We should remember them as well.
Last year I stand I probably wouldn’t go to a dawn parade again. Look how that turned out. I do feel, however, that the main big services are done now – 100 years since the war began, 100 years since Gallipoli, and 100 years since the first service. Surely there can’t be another big reason to go next year? That’s my tired self talking. As I write this it’s just 11am, and I feel like I’ve been up since 4:30am. Oh wait…
In school we did a topic in English on war poetry, and this is the only poem I ever liked, I think because of the last little section. You can read the entire poem here, but here are the last few lines for you to think about.
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.*
-Wilfred Owen, Dulce et Decorum Est
*it is sweet and right to die for one’s country