The first steps at ANZAC - Simpson Prize 2013
Please excuse the lateness of this blog, wifi has not been the easiest of things to negotiate.
Today, the 20th of April, was one of the most significant days of the tour. We bundled the students on the bus early in the morning so that we could drive down to the Gallipoli Peninsula. The significance is not for how much we can pack into the day or the activities we do but it is the first site and experience of the peninsula and the first time we get to hear the stories that have built the ANZAC legend.
After a long drive was there was an air of excitement amongst us all. We passed the time sharing music, chatting about life and laughing a lot. The group gets on so well and we all have had a laugh at each other. The drive flew by and soon enough we were off the bus and setting foot into Beach Cemetery. You may have seen some of the interviews with the kids on the news. It is always interesting for me to watch how they react and how they engage with the story. After talking about Simpson and discussing what ANZAC traditions mean, we walked in the footsteps of those men that rowed ashore on Gallipoli and discussed the importance of the campaign. Today I thought it would be poignant to hear from all the students about there reaction to this first taste of ANZAC;
Almost ninety-eight years ago, drenched teenagers like myself crawled across this spot carrying their best friends to their graves. Now the sky is blue and the grass is green. What kind of world would it be if they hadn't fought for it? The changes that the landscape and political climate have undergone over the last century make it almost impossible to appreciate the hell that our soldiers went through, however I am grateful in the extreme for this unique opportunity to learn more about the meaning of our national identity in such outstanding company and such a beautiful country. -William
Beach cemetery is incredible. The disorganised scatter of graves represents the confusion of the offensive and indirectly the confusion of the Gallipoli Campaign. There was the grave of a seventeen year old and I'm in awe of his courage to leave his friends, family and country to travel to a country that he'd barely heard of, he's not much older than myself. Thanks boys. - Tayler
My family has never celebrated ANZAC Day. I guess we dismiss it because we don't have a strong connection to Australian battles as South Korean Australians. But when I visited the beach cemetery with my peers I started to realise why we celebrate the events at Gallipoli. It was a special place and I hold extreme respect for the Australian troops who fought and died there. - Kevin Kim
Upon walking into the Beach Cemetry the first thing I thought was how pristine and well kept the cemetery was. I was glad to see that our soldiers could be remembered and honoured in such a beautiful place in the country where they had fallen. This is unique as many countries would not allow the men, of what had been an enemy, to be commemerated in their country. The most powerful feeling for me was to stand on the edge of the cemetery and to look out into the water. Whilst doing this I got goosebumps remembering what had happened almost 98 years ago. To remember the fallen including boys close to my own age was a truly deep and personal feeling. - Jack
Driving from instanbul we saw how incredible Turkey is. It is such a gorgeous country, the beach cemetery especially. I can't think of a more beautiful, peaceful and serene resting place for our fallen diggers. - Lauren
The world we live in is a wonderful place. The diggers that fought for our homeland were the peace keepers of the past and to pay homage to such an awe inspiring group of men is a prestigious thing. To walk in their footsteps is a treat in itself but to be granted the honour to commemorate such a noble cause as the Australian Diggers at Gallipoli could in the trained eye, be perceived as a gift of god. I am greatful for his acceptance and generosity. - Bryce
The water lapping on the shore, the green grass, the trees and flowers all came together to create a place which emulated peaceful, respectful and reflective calm. I'd had history lessons on Gallipoli but before actually being on the Pennisula it was hard to make the elements of the campaign feel real. When walking into Beach Cemetery, despite being in another country, I felt at home. I am grateful to the Turkish for allowing the ANZAC descendants to enter their land every year and for commemorating our fallen in such a touching way. -Rachel
If I were asked to reflect on today's happenings I would admit that I came to Gallipoli with an expectation of golden sand that met burgundy cliff faces from all the romanticised ideals of the ANZAC legend, particularly highlighted by the media. However this was not the case, although I was surprised to find myself not disappointed or disheartened at all as it simply put the campaign into a new, more realistic prepective. -Jess