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09 May 2017

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Paul. Well spoken, No wonder the Turkish commander, Colonel Mustafa Kemal Pasha, later Field Marshall, was to be called Kemal Ataturk when President of the Turkish nation.

I've just finished reading a collection of essays about South Australia in the years just prior to WW1.

The essays describe a host of South Australian and Australian achievements up to that period including the vote for women, introduction of aged and disabled pensions, child endowments and many more progressive social measures that were often world firsts.

In South Australia Aborigines had been able to vote and take up land titles since the 1850s.

The essays also detail the strident opposition to involvement in war in Australia, a movement partly born out of our experience in the Boer War, where we lost young men for an earlier pointless and brutal empire cause i.e. Gallipoli wasn't the first.

Those things truly register as nation building achievements.

Philip. As an Australian by choice my sentiments entirely.

Several years ago the Darwin RSL commissioned a large mural on the foyer wall about Gallipoli,

After fleaing ears a suitable but smaller mural was placed on the opposite wall about Kokoda.

While I agree with you Phil that ANZAC Day has changed over the years the essence of why Australians commemorate the anniversary of the first day of battle remains the same. It was the first time we as a nation of disparate states, together with our New Zealand friends, first combined to form a cohesive and organised operation.

That it took a war to get this to happen is lamentable but true.

Having twice been to the battle and burial sites on the Dardanelles, but not I hasten to add, during the time around ANZAC Day, the lessons to be learnt are as poignant today as they should have been then. Both Australia and Modern Turkey came of age during the battles and emerged as modern nations. That the Turkish people still respect Australians is demonstrated by at least two memorials depicting a Turkish soldier carrying a wounded digger to safety. Where else would you ever see that being depicted by a victorious nation?

The sites themselves are properly sign posted as places where no disrespect to those who died is accepted.

As a classic sign of conciliation, Mustafa Kemal’s words after the war had finished are worth repeating:

‘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.’

So yes, we need to learn from history and yes, and how wars between nations start is a good issue to commence. But we also need to remember why ANZAC Day is special to Australia and New Zealand.

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