Sunday, 24 April 2016
N'oublions jamais l'Australie
April 25th - it is ANZAC Day.
It is a special day in Australia and New Zealand.
We remember fallen soldiers from past and present conflicts, give humble thanks to our serving men and women and try and imagine a world of peace and love.
Here is an excerpt from the Australian War Memorial website, describing what took place, 101 years ago: (https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac-tradition/)
The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. More than 8,000 Australian soldiers had died in the campaign. Gallipoli had a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the actions of Australian and New Zealand forces during the campaign left a powerful legacy. What became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways in which they viewed both their past and their future.
It is now 9 o'clock in the morning, here in Australia, and our dawn services, emotional, poignant and attracting ever-growing support, are over. But, in a little village on the other side of the world, another ceremony will take place in a couple of hours.
In the west of France, in Villers-Bretonneux, liberated in WW1 by Australian forces, the local school is called l'école Victoria, in honour of the Victorian school children whose fund-raising attempts helped re-build the school after the war, rows of graves of Australian soldiers are perpetual reminders of sacrifice, maps of Australia are strung in the corridors of the secondary schools, 'N'oublions jamais l'Australie' is chalked up on primary school blackboards and Australian visitors are treated as part of the family.
There, ANZAC Day will soon be commemorated. It will be in French, but another language, that of love and mateship will assist with the translations.
Let us not forget.