24 April 2013

Happy ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance observed on April 25th each year in Australia and New Zealand to honor the fallen on the battlefield. Originally, the holiday was to recognize those who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire in the Great War (a.k.a. World War I).

While the Gallipoli campaign failed to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) after an eight month stalemate, but the allied troops from Down Under distinguished themselves. In fact, Turkish President Kemal Atatürk said of the opposing troops 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

Here in this country of ours.

You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away 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

The ANZAC Legend  created a powerful legacy which shaped how Aussies and Kiwi's saw their past and their understanding of the present.

The tradition is to remember their valor to the sounds of a bugler playing the last post, reciting the final lines of Lawrence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen"  (1914), also known as "Ode To Remembrance".

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
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.
While ANZAC Day is a solemn day of remembrance, surely the ANZAC Legend contributes to Australian and New Zealand good cheer, which should appreciate Charles Schultz  world ending witticism .

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