Good morning on what is a very special day for many of us.
One soldier once described ANZAC Day as “our favourite day of the year”.
I know many of our past and present uniformed men and women look forward to this day of commemoration.
They look forward to sharing it with their mates,
those they serve alongside,
in many cases their brothers and sisters by choice,
and they look forward to sharing it with their friends and family.
And their friends and family look forward to PROUDLY standing by their uniformed loved one on such a special and meaningful day.
There are plenty however, who are not able to share it with their mates or their loved ones as duty calls for all sorts of reasons. Please spare a thought for them.
And there are many, as we know, who will mark this day on foreign land.
|ANZAC Day Kabul 2013
I know you will be thinking of them.
Today we are lucky enough to have a message from someone who is overseas as we speak and who shares with us his thoughts on spending today in a foreign land with people of other nations.
As I look forward to my third ANZAC Day on operations, I reflect that it’s quite different to back home. For starters there’s always 100% participation – sleeping in is not an option! And neither is a trip to the pub or RSL after the ceremony. ANZAC Day on ops provides a brief pause and point of focus in our battle rhythm – the continuum of nameless days that become weeks, that become months. Australians and Kiwis are a small force amongst a large international Coalition, a long way from home. ANZAC Day is our day to share with Coalition partners.
Imagine my surprise last year when I arrived in Kabul to find the Australian contingent was accommodated in the Turkish barracks. This turned out to be a great thing, as the Turks’ small eatery was a home-cooked, fresh alternative to American Army ‘chow’. It also meant I learned some Turkish phrases and, luckily, found one other important opportunity. That was the chance to host the Turkish Commanding General during the ANZAC Day commemoration which the Turks co-hosted. ANZAC Day is theirs too, although Turkey does not commemorate 25 April; their memorial day is the anniversary of the start of the allied Naval bombardment of the Dardanelles peninsular. Events of WW1 and the Dardanelles/ANZAC Campaign impacted as significantly, and were a turning point in Turkish history, just as they were for Australia.
The Turkish General knew by heart the words of Mustafa Kamel Ataturk, inscribed in stone at the Turkish memorial site at ANZAC Cove.
We discussed our shared history; the fact that two militaries, which that should never have met on the battlefield one hundred years ago, are now joined in force somewhere equally unlikely. The Turks also have a shared history in Afghanistan and are now leading many of the international Coalition efforts to maintain peace and stability. So, as I look forward to another ANZAC ceremony in Afghanistan with the Turks, my personal hope is that one hundred years from now, ANZAC Day commemorations will reflect that our collective involvement in Afghanistan was successful – in the eyes of the Afghans, as well as both our home nations.
In case you cannot read the quote from Mustafa Kamel Ataturk on the stone here they are
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 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.”