Dateline: Saturday, April 25, 2015
Guest essay by Aaron Girard
100th anniversary of ANZAC in Perth
Today is the holiday in Australia to commemorate the men and women who have served in the Australian and New Zealand armed forces. Today also marks the 100th anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Armed Coalition forces landing on the shores of Gallipoli during WWI.
I was fortunate enough to be involved in the events today in Downtown Perth, which included a sunrise service at King’s Park and a parade down St. George’s Terrace, and included representatives from Normandy D-Day veterans to soldiers from the Afghanistan conflict. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see a wide diversity of backgrounds including Greek, Vietnamese, Korean, Malay, German, Bornean, Māori and Aboriginal peoples, as well as a representative from the Turkish government. It was an exciting experience filled with historical context and the chance to meet a cross section of the world’s population that I have never had the opportunity to mingle with before.
It seems like an appropriate time to remember my trip in December to the new ANZAC Museum in Albany, Western Australia. One of the things I saw there gave me a very emotional moment. There was a plaque posted with a statement from the first President of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk (which you can see here). It came to my attention that exactly 100 years ago today, Kemal Ataturk and Stanley Bruce, the future Prime Minister of Australia, met on the battlefield in Gallipoli, Turkey. When both of those men eventually became leaders of their countries, they met to proclaim governmental agreements and future peace, and exchanged gifts of memorabilia that they had carried with them on the battlefield, those many years ago. Until the day he died, Bruce kept that golden cigarette case as one of his most cherished possessions. Chilling and heart-warming at the same time, it gives an example of how things can come full circle and actually have a chance to work for the benefit of the people and countries of the world.
Interestingly enough, yesterday marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, as recognised by many countries in the world. Also interesting is that the events that ocurred within 24 hours of each other on either side of the modern day country of Turkey are recognised very differently around the world after 100 years. If you are not familiar with the history of Armenia and the Caucasus region in general, I strongly suggest you read about it from multiple sources. The region sits in the relatively small distance between places that you may know very well from modern events: Sochi, Russia; Mosul, Iraq; and Tabriz, Iran. The region is smaller than Texas, for frame of reference. So many different cultures, languages, and religions squeezed into a small area bordered on two sides by seas (Black to the west Caspian to the east) has caused significant hardship but also amazing historical figures and stories over the last several millennia.
In any case, I am not trying to profess or make political statements. I just found it very interesting how two similar events involving similar peoples on almost exactly the same day have such different outcomes after a century. They both were represented here on the other side of the world. It’s a very interesting dialogue about how the world works, and I have not seen the two events remarked upon at the same time. It also made me think about how important education of events in our world, past and current, is so important to how things turn out in the future.
Keep thinking and keep educating yourself and others. I’ll continue thinking and writing (this time I promise). 🙂
Aaron Girard © 2015
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