The memorial in 2005 . Image source: Wikimedia
So, I see from a report in the Guardian (16/6/17) and on the Honest History website that the Ataturk memorial in Turkey is undergoing ‘refurbishment’. Australians have often felt a warm inner glow when contemplating Ataturk’s words, previously emblazoned on the Ataturk memorial at ANZAC Cove, Wellington and in Canberra:
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 to us 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
After having lost their lives on this land
They have become our sons as well
Except, as the Honest History website has been discussing for some time, there is real doubt whether Ataturk ever uttered these words at all. I have always been impressed and surprised at the generosity of the Turkish government in accommodating the hordes of Australian and New Zealand tourists who flock to ANZAC Cove, although I’m sure that their tourist dollars are welcome. I can’t, however, see the generosity being reciprocated if the descendants of an invading force wanted to commemorate their battles on Australian land.
It will interesting to watch the politics of this- on both sides.