As it’s turned out, I’m taking a bit of a holiday this week, so my regular post is not forthcoming.
However, in the wake of Anzac Day, I strongly recommend to you two articles I read this weekend.
The first was in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, written by journalist Peter Fitzsimons, titled What stunned Peter Fitzsimons most about the Gallipoli story.
And then in today’s Herald, another article by Peter (who is in Gallipoli for the centenary), titled Anzac Cover dawn service: The fallen were with us, and we honoured them.
Rest easy if you’re concerned that Peter’s contribution is yet another tribute to young men who died gloriously for their countries: it most assuredly is not. Let me give you a couple of tastes:
For this writer that reflection turns on the fact that the number of attendees [at the dawn service in Gallipoli], just over 10,000, was a rough equal of the Anzac dead, lying in the cemeteries that surrounded us….It was a catastrophe – 10,000 death-knocks across our two young, small countries, making a damaging impact for generations to come – and one to be compounded over the next three years as in Australia we went on to lose another five times that amount of dead on the Western Front.
I reflect on the generosity of spirit of the Turks. Our men invaded their land as part of an Imperial force that would leave behind no fewer than 90,000 dead Turkish soldiers. And yet, somehow, in the time since, they have cared for our dead, welcomed our backpackers, greeted our dignitaries and officials as long-lost friends, all with a smile and nary any recrimination. Could we Australians, as a people, ever muster the same warmth and forgiveness if, say, the Germans…or the Japanese…landed at, say, Pearl Beach, and only left after leaving behind 90,000 of our dead?
But please do read both articles, and prepare to be entertained and severely provoked.