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Turkish International Service - Mehmetcik Abide


Turkish International Service - Mehmetcik Abide

It is an honour and a privilege to be here today, to remember all of those who fought on this Peninsula in battles which began 89 years ago tomorrow.

For the people of Australia, Turkey and New Zealand the battles on the Gallipoli Peninsula hold an especially poignant place in our national histories.

But we were not the only countries to serve in this campaign, there are many memorials held here each year, remembering soldiers from all countries who fought and fell on this land.

For Australia and New Zealand it has been said that the seeds of our nationhood were sown here. In Australia, the legend of ANZAC became a central part of our national identity - it lives on today and continues to unite all Australians.

That legend does not serve to glorify war, but to honour the values born from the hardships endured by all who served here. These are values of mateship and teamwork, of bravery and sacrifice. I recognise that the terrible struggle that occurred here was also the crucible of your modern nation. In Australia, we never forget that only a few years after the events that occurred here Mustafa Kemal Ataturk extended the hand of reconciliation to his former enemies.

His words still speak to us:

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. It takes greatness and courage to embrace fallen enemies as 'sons'. Each of our nations suffered here.

We are united by that bond. All who fought here made sacrifices so that the generations who have lived since, including our own, could build prosperous nations and enjoy the freedoms that we all cherish.

Today these freedoms are again under threat - this time from terrorist acts, and we have both again suffered losses and pain. This time we are united as allies in the fight to defeat and preserve these freedoms for this and future generations.

This is not an easy task but those who fought here took on even greater challenges. The world today is changing at a remarkable rate and uncertainty abounds. However, with this change has come a need to better understand each other's cultures and differences. We can all play a part in eliminating intolerance and extremism. We can all play a part in reducing poverty and extending justice. We can all play a part in building a more peaceful world.

We have learnt the lessons of our shared history and so, year after year, we return here to reaffirm that knowledge.

We know that our dead lie in the soil of a friendly country and we who visit stand amongst friends. May it ever remain so and may we never forget the shared loss that brings us together.

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