On Anzac Day we remember all the soldiers who have died fighting for the Australian and New Zealand armies.
Anzac Day is held annually on April 25th to commemorate the date in 1915 that the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and Allied forces started their fight against the Ottoman Empire on the shores of Gallipoli, Turkey. This year it’s the 100 year anniversary.
The main objective was to capture the Ottoman Empire’s capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul), as the Ottoman Empire was a powerful ally of Germany during the First World War. However, the might of the Ottoman forces held back the Allied and Anzac troops for a gruelling and bloody 8 months. Both sides suffered a heavy number of casualties, totalling over 100,000 dead, and a further 220,000 wounded.
There are positives that can be taken from this conflict, however. Anzac Day is a day of great honour and respect. It’s also celebrated in many other countries outside of Australia and New Zealand, such as the UK and Turkey, as an international day of peace.
Here is the first few lines from a speech made by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a key commander of the Ottoman troops at Gallipoli and first President of Turkey, given to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to revisit the Gallipoli battlefields. He said:
“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…”
ANZAC Day and other remembrance days like it should not be used to celebrate war, but instead to remember the troops that sacrificed their lives for their country and for freedom.