Moving Tributes at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli

Yesterday Daniel and I made the almost obligatory when-in-Turkey stop for Australians and visited Anzac Cove. Gallipoli. While I have so much to say about it and will write a few posts on it I just wanted to share with you first the one thing that got to me the most – the tributes.

I didn’t think when I went to Gallipoli that I would cry and that it would touch me as much as I did but as we were taking our tour yesterday I was so shocked at the emotions I had that kept taking over me.

It all began at the first grave site we visited when I read a tribute that Ataturk wrote to the Anzacs in 1934:

“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 now 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.”

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The moving words touched my heart and made me cry. I knew that at the end of the Gallipoli campaign there was a mutual respect between the two sides who fought but I never realised how strong and beautiful the connection that they had was. Hearing the stories about opposing sides throwing over cigarettes and chocolates for the enemy and organizing armistices so they could all respectfully bury their dead really did evoke the feeling that this was a gentleman’s war. We drove past a statue, but didn’t stop to take photos, of a Turkish soldier carrying a wounded Anzac soldier, a symbol of the mutual respect they had for each other and this further reiterated the point to me. When you travel through Anzac cove and the rest of Gallipoli I felt as though the land belonged to both the Turkish and the Anzac’s. They have named the area a peace park and people from all different countries walk around, bewildered by what happened so long ago.

The other thing I found utterly heartbreaking and moving was the tombstones of the soldiers and the tributes that were written on them from their families. Some of the phrases were generic and either chosen from the bible or perhaps a list of “appropriate phrases” and these were beautiful in themselves. The ones that really touched my heart however were the personal ones.

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The personal messages written on the gravestones were heartbreaking as I tried to imagine losing a loved one in war. Their families were so proud yet so utterly destroyed and devastated and you could tell by reading these graves. Even the one that simply read “Well Done Ted” made more people than just me emotional. I don’t know why that one got to me so much but when I read that I had to steal Daniel’s sunglasses because I was crying so much.

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At all the cemeteries there was a plaque that read “Their name liveth forevermore” and visiting Gallipoli yesterday made me realise how unbelievably true that is.

“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.”

– Ode to Remembrance, Laurence Binyon

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