It is dark and cold and with bated breath everyone seems to be lulled into a sense of stillness. The streaks of the sun peak over the horizon and a lonely trumpet plays.
Two powerful words and of all the ones I have been to, there are two that stand out vividly in my mind: the first one I attended and the last one I attended.
The first was at the War Memorial, overlooking Canberra.
The second was at the site of the battle, in Gallipoli. It was a very cold morning. We arrived at ANZAC Cove at 3am, so that we could pass through the appropriate security check points and walk to the place where the service would be held. As we sat and waited, the gravity of the day and the symbolism slowly descended until at last…at last it was time. We were there to tribute the men who selflessly gave their lives to fight a war so far from home, as well as those who fought to defend their home.
On April 25, 1915 Allied forces, lead by Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops attacked the Gallipoli peninsula in order to secure the Allies passage through Dardanelles in the hopes of conquering Istanbul and thereby contolling access to the Black Sea. The ANZACs landed on a small beach, under heavy gunfire, and faced a nearly impossible climb through an abundance of brush and hills. It is estimated that 2,000 men died on the first day alone.
The battle waged on for over 8 months with a staggering death toll of 87,000 Turks and 44,000 Allied soldiers, including over 11,000 ANZACs. But the Turks held on, in what is considered one of their greatest victories–despite their huge losses. It also solidified the place and role of the ANZACs on a world stage and today ANZAC Day serves as a day of remembrance–Lest We Forget.
After paying tribute in ANZAC Cove, we then followed one of the trails up the hilly slopes, visiting the gravesides of men who died way too young and so far from home.
Through the trenches we walked, over paths that were created to ease our walking, knowing that those who were here nearly 100 years ago did not have the luxury of such trails. Up we walked, stopping, taking pictures, talking, taking in the view. Up we walked, up to three different memorials:
I can’t remember exactly how far we walked that day. All I know is that at the very top of our trail, I saw some breath-taking views and as I stared over the picturesque landscape and gazed down to the sea, I had to stop and wonder how many soldiers would have had the luxury of doing the same.