Monday, April 25, 2005
Today Australia celebrates the Anzac Day, our equivalent of Remembrance Day. ANZAC stands for the Australia & New Zealand Army Corp, and the origins of the commemoration lie exactly 90 years ago this year, when the ANZACs, together with British troops, landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, in a bold attempt to gain control of the Bosphorus Strait that links the Black and the Mediterranean seas. The operation was a failure; after months of fierce fighting against the Turkish troops (led by the future leader of the nation Kamal Attaturk, then a colonel in the army), the allies did not manage to achieve their strategic objectives and had to withdraw.
The Anzac Day, of course, is not a celebration of defeat (much less of war, as the far left never tires of arguing), but the occasion to remember the service and the sacrifice of Australian soldiers in all the conflicts of the past century. While Australia has not been involved militarily overseas in significant numbers since the Vietnam War, the popularity of the Anzac Day keeps growing, as young generations take to the tradition in large and enthusiastic numbers.
I think there is no better commemoration of the Anzac Day than the fact that right now Australian infantry troops are on the way to the Middle East to provide training to Iraqi army security for the Japanese forces as they rebuild roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in the south of Iraq. Australian soldiers always fought for freedom and to defend our way of life; helping to bring security and democracy to the people of Iraq is both the fitting tribute and the fitting continuation of the struggle of those who fought and died in the Mid East and on the Western Front, in Tobruk and Kokoda, or in Long Tan.