Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Turkey and Anzac day

Just recently I've come back from Turkey (well not that recently as I've been slack in posting anything), was over there with a couple of friends (Matt, Fish & Lydia) to do a bit of sight seeing of Turkey (Istanbul in particular) and to pay our respects at the Anzac Day dawn service....

The Dichotomy of attendees...
I know that lots of people have described the rubbish and general yobbishness of the crowds that attended the services, however I'd like to point out a few things I noticed (and some that I heard of from other attendees). The Aus gov site points out that "Rubbish disposal is provided and visitors are encouraged to respect the nature of the Gallipoli environment and dispose of rubbish thoughtfully or, where possible, take their rubbish with them." however I for one saw not one single rubbish bin, though I did see what I thought were supplied rubbish bags for collection.

Things I saw:

  • With all the crammed space (17,000+ in space for only 13,000), I did not here of one single complaint, everyone was good natured and helped out all the new people arriving through the night to find a bit of ground to camp out on, lending a hand when necessary.
  • Complete silence and respect during the appropriate moments during the night and at the dawn service (very moving actually)
  • A fair bit of rubbish left about (but also quite a fair few people cleaning up their own stuff)
  • Someone blowing up a beach ball and throwing that around at the Lone Pine service
  • Lots of people sitting/lying/falling asleep between the gravestones at Lone Pine (then again I fell asleep sitting up on the stand a couple of times)
  • A veteran (looked WWII age) being one of the people sitting between the gravestones, and thoroughly enjoying the attention of two cute girls sitting next to him.
  • Standing ovations for every single one of the veterans making their way to the reserved area
  • A mexican wave going round the stands 7 or so times

So yeah, it was bizarre I got to see the full range or respect through to thoughtless inconsiderate-ness (is that even a word?). It also makes me wonder about what is needed for the Anzac day ceremonies? From all that I've read and heard about the young Aussies and Kiwis who gave their lives, they were known to be larakins and trouble makers, up for a bit of a laugh but ready to risk all when it came down to it.. Do we want to mourn and show our respect for these people by being sombre or celebrate the joy and laughter that was in their lives?

I don't know the answer, but I am reminded of the tradition with a lot of Scottish and Irish funerals, where you'll have the actual funeral which is very sombre and respectful, but then you'll have the wake, where you celebrate the persons life with a party and talk about and joke about what they did, you remember how they were when they were alive, not that they are no longer with us. Both elements are important, it is just a question of balance and when is the right moment to show either....

I'll let everyone else decide what they think is the most appropriate balance, for me, I am glad that I've been to the Anzac Cove dawn service, don't think I'll go there again for Anzac day though.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with the idea that lives lost should be celebrated as well as commemorated, although I'm not sure whether that would enter the minds of those who see the experience as part of their holiday. Yet is that such a bad thing anyway? Surely travel is all about broadening your experience and I suspect that plenty of people who went there not realising the extent of what happened 90 years ago will have a far clearer idea now. It will have had much more impact than a school history class or watching the service on TV, which has to be positive not only for those individuals but also for future generations. It will also have helped some people to focus on the effects of more recent wars. To dwell on the minority's 'inappropriate' behaviour detracts from the fact that so many people make the effort to go to Gallipoli in the first place; they don't have to. The complete silence and respect at key moments would suggest to me that the experience meant something to everyone who was there. It also sounds like there was a community spirit, which has to be a good thing... C