Gallipoli is a unique, emotional, and meaningful journey

Gallipoli is a unique, emotional, and meaningful journey

My family had no big war heroes; however, growing up, we were always taught to honour the selfless service of brave men and women who laid down their lives for our freedom. When I had children of my own, I continued that tradition of honouring fallen soldiers, and every year, I got my children out of bed early on Anzac Day to attend the dawn service, no matter where we were.
In 2009 when planning a trip to the middle east, I took the opportunity to attend the Anzac Day dawn service at Anzac Cove in Turkey. People witness this service for many reasons, but for me, it was to honour the fallen soldiers of the past and be grateful for their sacrifice. We slept overnight in our sleeping bags and witnessed the dawn service; the experience was profoundly humbling as an Australian whose life has never seen war in any significant way.

Where is ANZAC Cove

ANZAC Cove is a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. It was the site of the landing of ANZAC troops on April 25, 1915, during the Gallipoli Campaign. ANZAC Day commemorations are held yearly at ANZAC Cove to honour the soldiers who fought and died during the campaign.

What does ANZAC represent to Australia and New Zealand

As with all Memorial Days, ANZAC Day will mean different things to people depending on their circumstances. Therefore, the following is a general overview and framing of the day for those in other parts of the world reading this story. ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance observed in Australia and New Zealand to honour the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) members who fought in the Gallipoli Campaign during World War I. The day is also an opportunity to reflect on the values of courage, sacrifice, and loyalty that the ANZACs embodied and to honour the men and women who have served and continue to serve in defence of their country.

What does ANZAC Day represent to Turkey

From the Turkish point of view, ANZAC Day is a day to remember the fallen soldiers from both sides of the conflict. The Turkish people acknowledge the sacrifice of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought and died during the Gallipoli campaign. Still, they also pay tribute to the Turkish soldiers who fought bravely to defend their homeland. Furthermore, in Turkey, ANZAC Day is viewed as an opportunity to promote reconciliation and understanding between the two nations.

What to expect

The ANZAC Day dawn service at ANZAC Cove is a particularly moving event, as it takes place at the same time as the original landing on April 25, 1915. The service typically involves readings, prayers, and laying wreaths to remember the soldiers who died during the Gallipoli Campaign.One of the main events on ANZAC Day in Turkey is the Dawn Service, held at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This solemn ceremony is attended by representatives from Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey, as well as visitors from around the world. The service is a time for reflection, and it provides an opportunity for people from all backgrounds to come together and pay their respects to those who lost their lives during the conflict.ANZAC Cove is now a popular destination for tourists and visitors who come to pay their respects and learn more about the history of the ANZACs. The site is also home to several memorials, including the ANZAC Commemorative Site and the Lone Pine Cemetery, which contains the graves of many ANZAC soldiers who died during the campaign.

Reflection on Witnessing this Special Event

For me, the day held many emotions, but mostly sadness for the fallen soldiers on both sides, fighting to defend their country. I do not claim to be a historian, but the words described on a Memorial touched me profoundly and have stayed with me since that day. In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk wrote a tribute to the Anzacs who died in the Gallipoli campaign, which is inscribed on a memorial at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli, Turkey. The quote reads:

"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". 

As a mother, this quote touched me to my core, and when I got home, I hugged my son extra tight when I saw him at the airport and said a silent prayer that I would never have to send him to war.