Over the last few weeks I have been able to strike a few things off my Bucket List.
Turkey is an amazing country, relatively new in itself, but the every part of the big country is full of history.
A friend and I decided to embark upon a Busabout Tour in time for the 99th ANZAC Day Commemorations on the peninsula where it originated.
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about (I will forgive you, as long as you're not an Aussie or Kiwi), ANZAC Day takes place on April 25 every year to remember all Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping missions.
The date is the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire. it is the first campaign that led to major casualties.
"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives...
You are now living in the soil of a friendly country
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And teh Mhmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours...
You, the mother,
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."
We arrived about 8pm the night before and made ourselves comfortable in the grandstand. All of the grass space had been taken by tour groups such as Fanatics and Topdeck laying out in their sleeping bags or sitting in groups shrouded in Australian and New Zealand flags.
Throughout the night, there was entertainment, ranging from the Australian Air Force band to a Maori tribe dance to clips on the big screen about the history of the day - from both the ANZAC perspective, and the Turk perspective.
Us up in the grandstand had a bit of room, and I laid out my sleeping bag on the ground to get a bit of shut eye before the Dawn Service.
After a broken sleep of around 5 hours (thankyou to that can of Coke I had), it was 4am and the MC was back on the mic waking everyone up for the 5am Dawn Service start.
We stood for the Turkish, New Zealand and Australian national anthems and then for the Ode and the Last Post.
The Ode is a verse from the poem "For the Fallen' by a British poet and author Laurence Binyon.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, or the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
The Last Post is a bugle call that signals the end of the days activities. It is also played at the funerals of soldiers to indicate that he is in his final resting place. As well as ANZAC Day, it is also played at Remembrance Day services.
To be able to stand on the hallowed grounds where many of our ancestors fought and died for our way of life is an amazing experience and one I would urge all Antipodeans to make the pilgrimage to the battlefields of Gallipoli.
After the Dawn Service it was time to make the 3km hike up to Lone Pine for the Australian service.
I broke my leg about 6 weeks before, so I took advantage of the free Shuttle Bus (a service very well organised by the volunteers). Unfortunately this meant that I missed out on seeing the cemeteries that are scattered throughout the peninsula - I did get a free lanyard though!
The Australian service didn't start until 10am, so we were entertained by the Master of Ceremonies till the start of the service.