Even by the time of the first anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, the 25th of April had the mood of an unofficial national day in Australia and New Zealand. Today, ANZAC Day is, in many respects, the most important national occasion in the two countries.
It is marked with great solemnity and with a variety of activities—beginning with a dawn service—that recall not only the losses and the horrors of the Gallipoli Campaign, but all the horrors and losses that Australia and New Zealand suffered in the First World War.
Of the approximately 60,000 Australians who served at Gallipoli, 8,709 were killed and 17,924 were wounded. Of about 14,000 New Zealanders who served there, 2,779 were killed and 5,212 werewounded. Turkish forces, which included troops from across the vast Ottoman Empire, lost about 66,000 killed and 152,000 wounded.1
Though the military operations at Gallipoli were a failure, out of the campaign and the grim years of the war that followed began to emerge, for the first time, distinct New Zealand and Australian identities.
The great Australian war historian and correspondent C.E.W. Bean went so far as to write: “it was on the 25th of April, 1915, that the consciousness of Australian nationhood was born.”2
And the same can be said of New Zealand.
Bean, who travelled to Egypt with the 1st Australian Imperial Force in 1914 and accompanied the troops to Gallipoli in 1915, saw distinctive qualities in the ANZAC soldiers that became part of the ANZAC legend. The ANZAC soldiers were enterprising and independent, loyal to their mates and country, and bold in battle. They were the elite of the New Zealand and Australian armies—volunteers all—and they committed themselves without hesitation to the nobility of their cause, and fought with courage, skill, and audacity.
Gallipoli also became a cornerstone of Turkish national identity. Though the ANZAC soldiers and the Turkish soldiers, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, fought against one another relentlessly and ferociously under dire circumstances—and while both sides suffered devastating losses in appalling conditions—the soldiers never lost respect for their enemies on the other side—in fact, they bonded over their mutual sacrifice.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Gallipoli and the First World War, Turks and Australians have fostered a close and friendly relationship. At dawn ceremonies this morning in ANZAC Cove, or Ariburnu as is it is known in Turkey, Turks stood shoulder-to-shoulder in large numbers with Australians and New Zealanders, as they do every year there and elsewhere. The large memorial in ANZAC Cove is maintained and cared for by Turkish government agencies. In fact, 15 memorials at Ariburnu have undergone refurbishment in the last year.
A heartfelt message to grieving ANZAC mothers, attributed to Atatürk, who went on to found the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and become its first president, appears on memorials at ANZAC Cove, in Australia, and in New Zealand. Historians have recently questioned whether Atatürk ever made these statements, nonetheless, the sentiment remains and continues to resonate. It is considered a foundation of the friendship between Australia and Turkey. “Those heroes,” Atatürk is reported to have said, “after having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”3
In 2015, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day, Ambassador Reha Keskintepe, then the Turkish ambassador to Australia, wrote that “Turkish-Australian friendship should serve as a strong message to the international community—plagued by ethnic, sectarian and religious conflicts—for tolerance, mutual understanding, and peace among nations.”4
This is a fitting message for us—and for the world community—to reflect upon today.
And so, on this 103rd ANZAC Day, we join with millions around the world to honor the memories of not only the ANZACs who fought on Gallipoli, but also the Turkish dead of a country once our adversary, now our companions in grief and remembrance.
We also honor all current and former men and women of the Defence Forces who uphold the longstanding commitment of Australia and New Zealand to peace and security.
We remember those who fell in both world wars, in the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Indonesian Confrontation, the Vietnam War, and in Afghanistan.
We remember, too, the many women who served during the First World War, including the dedicated nurses who were so often directly in the line of fire, as well as those who served on the home front, where they undertook recruiting and fundraising activities, assembled comfort packages for soldiers overseas, and worked in industries and managed farms.
We remember the fallen of Britain, France, and India in this campaign—nations that also suffered grievously with high numbers of casualties.
We remember, too, the men and women from Indiana University who served in the Great War and whose sacrifices are memorialized in Memorial Hall, Memorial Stadium, and the Indiana Memorial Union, all of which bear the word “memorial” in their names to ensure that their sacrifices are never forgotten. The names of these brave soldiers and nurses are also enshrined in the Golden Book in the Indiana Memorial Union, along with the names of military veterans connected to IU as far back as the War of 1812.
We remember, too, the countless civilians around the world who have suffered the devastating consequences of war.
As journalist Warwick McFadyen wrote on the centennial of ANZAC Day: “The deeper meaning of remembering the ANZAC landing—that sacrifice in war carries a toll measured by more than mere numbers—should have resonance to this day, and into the future.”
And so today, as we remember the ANZAC landing and reflect on its deeper meaning, let us remember and strive to emulate the sense of commitment, courage and perseverance that characterized the ANZACs.
And let us work to ensure that our society continues to value tolerance, mutual understanding, and peace, as exemplified by the friendship between the people of Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand.
Through our commitment to these ideals, future generations will continue to understand and honor the price that has been paid by so many for the freedoms that we all enjoy and the ANZAC spirit will continue to be cherished and remembered.
We now follow with the laying of the wreath on the war memorial. Today we have erected a temporary plinth in honor of those who have served.
In the spirit of friendship and mutual respect between the Republic of Turkey and the nations of Australia and New Zealand, of which I have spoken this morning, I invite Kaya Sahin, associate professor in the College of Arts & Science’s Department of History, and Rita Koryan, assistant vice president in IU’s Office of International Affairs—both of whom are originally from Turkey—to lay the wreath on the memorial.
1. Phillip Bradley, ed, Charles Bean’s Gallipoli Illustrated, (Allen & Unwin, 2014), 190.
2. C.E.W. Bean, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, volume II, The Story of Anzac: From 4 May, 1915, to the Evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula, Angus & Robertson, 1924), 910.
3. As quoted by Ambassador Reha Keskintepe in “ANZAC Day: Australia and Turkey Bound by Blood and Respect,” The Australian, April 25, 2015.
4. Reha Keskintepe, “ANZAC Day: Australia and Turkey Bound by Blood and Respect,” The Australian, April 25, 2015.