Friday, February 5, 2010

Battles of the Past

After my last post we arrived in Echeabat, dropped our bags and boarded a small bus in the blistering cold with a packed lunch to bustle off to the sites of the ANZAC Day landings of April 25, 1915.

Since my childhood I have attended ANZAC Day services and parades, mostly aware of the basic idea behind the invasion but (apparently) never fully understanding the geography.

Almost 95 years later, when I stood there, fresh tracks laid in the newly fallen snow, just by the beach, I looked up at the hills and couldn't help but wonder why anyone would pick this spot for a beach landing. In-sane!

The beach was peaceful and incredibly beautiful at ANZAC cove. Being winter, not only did we have fresh snow but a completely empty beach, road and battlefields for us to experience.

We saw ANZAC cove, ANZAC and Turkish trenches and tunnels, the memorial on the site of the Battle for Lone Pine and The Nek, the sun setting over the sea as we stood above Simpson's grave and the pines that have grown all over what was once a horrifyingly bloody battlefield. For me, the best past was seeing the Turkish memorial to the invaders, with words from Ataturk (spoken in 1934). These words seem just as significant as those proudly proclaimed annually on ANZAC Day, ''they shall not grow old as we that are left grow old''. Even more significant as they were spoken by the man who stopped any chance of success in the campaign, acknowledging the sacrifices of both Allied and Central forces, more than we ever do in ANZAC services.

<I>"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 far away 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."</i>

That got me, and I can't believe that I haven't read or heard them before.

We followed yesterday up with a visit to Troy today. Unbelievably, people told me not to get my hopes up. "there's not much to see, maybe you want to go to say you've been there, but most people are disappointed."

Most people, in my opinion, must be crazy. To visit a site that apparently still retains some mystery is pretty cool. Did Paris exist, did the Trojan horse exist? Was it really here where we're standing that Achilles slay Hector? How did Homer put it altogether so well more than 500years after the event? There's a team of German archaeologists still there trying to figure that out.

Still covered in yesterday's snow I could have played like a kid there all day. Jumping from the remains of one wall to the next, trying to reconstruct, not one, but NINE cities in my mind. According to the experts, there was apparently 9 cities of Troy, spread out over 3500 years, it seems they really gave it up for a lost cause only in 500AD.

But like history, the show must go on. To Selchuk and the Virgin Mary's home!

Sent from my glorious e71 which is most definitely not an iPhone!

No comments:

Post a Comment