This was by far the most moving and enriching experience of my time abroad. To be able to journey to the spot where so many of our young men died for our country was incredible. I think the thing that hit me the most, was that they are younger than what I am now. When you sit in your history lessons back at school, it’s easy to think of them as much more grown up, but some were even just 14 years old!
I never before realised the impact that Gallipoli had on the Turks – our countries invaded them, so naturally they had to fight to protect their land and families. So many of their troops and civilians were killed, and it’s not something that we learn about in school. Nevertheless, the Turkish people are so welcoming to us younger generations who come each year, and practically invade them again, yet they are not angry and bitter towards us.
We camped out at ANZAC cove and it was the coldest night I’ve ever recalled! It was incredible to watch the sun go down, and see it rise again from the same place. While there was a sombre mood with hearing the stories from Gallipoli, there was a great sense of pride. I have never felt so proud to stand up and sing the National Anthem as I was at the Australian Memorial Service, and I will sing it changed forever more.
This was an experience that I’ll never forget, and I strongly encourage other Australians and New Zealanders to think about making the trek for ANZAC day next year.