This Monument With An Eternal Flame Guards The Shrine




I have a friend in Melbourne who has not been to the Shrine of Remembrance. That is sad. Been there. But for the truly Great Ocean Roadtrip, a visit to this Shrine was the highlight of our Melbourne adventure. More so because we visited just before Anzac Day which was celebrated every April 25.




The Trenches of Gallipoli (Turkey 2009)



I have been to Gallipoli in Turkey back in 2009. I did not have much expectation of the site outside of it being sandwiched between my visits to Istanbul and Troy. Hardly read up on it (tales of Istanbul got me hooked!) and was thus completely clueless by the time we reached Gallipoli. . Our Turkish guide then was all passion and pride as he narrated to us the significance of that site. I pulled myself in and out of some trenches — preserved to this day — used by soldiers during the war to have a “feel” of the struggles, sacrifices and burdens of duty in a war that counted many casualties. That was my “introduction” to Anzac Day and Gallipoli. A very fitting one, indeed.




The Shrine of Remembrance (Melbourne)



Anzac Day honors the gallant men among the Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. This national day of remembrance starts with a dawn service which was way “too early” for us. We went a day early and instead witnessed the preparations. We felt privileged to join a tour of the Shrine with a volunteer guide named Judy, who shared the same passion and pride as my 2009 Gallipoli guide from Turkey. Judy repeated the lines “In war, there is decency” as if we had to be reminded every so often. She mouthed those lines with so much fire & passion that anyone would feel guilty for enjoying the peace now resulting from the wars fought by men and women for love of country.




The Day Before Anzac Day (Melbourne)



The soldiers of both sides then were decent as they were gallant. The ANZAC force landed in Gallipoli on April 25 as part of the Allied Forces. They intended to knock the Ottomans out of war who were then allied with the Germans. Met with fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk, the Father of Modern Turkey), the confrontation resulted in a stalemate which dragged for 8 months. There were over 20,000 Allied casualties which included 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand. No real victors from this war. But as Judy repeated many times over, DECENCY AND RESPECT WON. Those soldiers from both sides observed the tenets of morality and good character. “In war, there is decency. There is respect.”




This is the view from the trenches of Gallipoli (Turkey)



In Gallipoli, I found this message inscribed in stone for all visitors to see, read and appreciate.

“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 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. Having lost their lives in this land , they have become our sons as well. ”



This Moving Monument in Gallipoli Speaks Volumes



Truly, a legacy so powerful it conditioned the minds of those who understand the pains and sacrifices of wars.