An­zac jour­ney won­drous

Lo­cal lass Kim­ber­ley Er­tel em­barked on a trip of a life­time to Gal­lipoli, Turkey this year. Here is her firstper­son ac­count of the mov­ing An­zac Day ser­vice.

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Never be­fore have I been so proud to be a New Zealan­der than on April 25, 2013 stand­ing among my fel­low An­zacs at the dawn cer­e­mony in Gal­lipoli, Turkey.

My­self, Rachel Wyl­lie and fel­low Mata­mata girl Sarah Ex­ton em­barked upon a lifechang­ing jour­ney as we re­traced the foot­steps of our An­zac soldiers who fought bravely at Gal­lipoli in 1915.

We ar­rived on the Gal­lipoli penin­sula mid- af­ter­noon, pa­tient and ex­cited, ready to make our An­zac pil­grim­age.

The gates to the An­zac me­mo­rial site were opened a few hours later and we all squished in and found our place on the grass for our night un­der the stars.

Through­out the night, New Zealand and Aus­tralian mil­i­tary bands en­ter­tained the crowds, keep­ing spir­its high and thoughts away from the chilly evening tem­per­a­tures.

Many doc­u­men­taries, in­ter­views and pho­tos of the me­mo­rial sites scat­tered over the penin­sula were also shown on the big screen, al­low­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to grasp the re­al­ity of what our soldiers went through and achieved dur­ing the Gal­lipoli cam­paign.

I re­mem­ber our Turk­ish tour guide ex­plain­ing in bro­ken English be­fore we ar­rived in Gal­lipoli how ‘‘ you just don’t get it, un­til you are there in per­son’’, how ‘‘Gal­lipoli will change you’’.

She could more right.

As the sun slowly rose over An­zac Cove, the ab­so­lute calm and still­ness was breath­tak­ing.

The re­al­ity of our fore­fa­thers’ courage, sac­ri­fice and com­pas­sion was star­ing us in the face. The mov­ing speech from the Turk­ish rep­re­senta-

not have been tives high­lighted the friendly ac­cep­tance of An­zacs in Turkey.

Al­though our soldiers may have fallen on for­eign soil, they are still very much re­spected and highly re­garded. The 6km trek to Chunuk Bair fol­low­ing the ser­vice was again a sober­ing mo­ment. As we passed the trenches and ceme­ter­ies to the top of the Gal­lipoli penin­sula where the NZ soldiers gained the most ter­ri­tory, the re­al­ity of what the New Zealand De­fence Force ac­tu­ally do for us Ki­wis cer­tainly hit home.

Al­though I can­not com­pre­hend what it must be like to have a loved one fight­ing in a war over­seas, af­ter my ex­pe­ri­ence at Gal­lipoli I most def­i­nitely have new­found ad­mir- ation and grat­i­tude for what our brave men and women do.

Gal­lipoli not only helped us ac­knowl­edge and cel­e­brate the lives of those who had fallen but also gave us a new un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for our de­fence force as they sac­ri­fice their per­sonal freedom so we can main­tain ours. En­graved for­ever at An­zac Cove are the fol­low­ing ten­der words from Gal­lipoli Turk­ish Com­man­der Ataturk who later be­came the first pres­i­dent of the Turk­ish Repub­lic.

‘‘ Those heroes who 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 send 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.’’ - Ataturk, 1934.

Lest we for­get.

Pil­grim­age: Mata­mata’s Kim­ber­ley Er­tel with friends Rachel Wyl­lie and Sarah Ex­ton at the An­zac me­mo­rial site in Gal­lipoli.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.