101st anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli commemorated on ANZAC day in Pohnpei
- Category: News
- Published: Tuesday, 17 May 2016 08:10
- Written by Bill Jaynes
- Hits: 1969
By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
April 25, 2016
Pohnpei, FSM—The State of Pohnpei was just one of the thousands of places throughout the world to hold dawn services in commemoration of the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli during which nearly 12,000 Australians and New Zealanders died. The commemoration, often referred to as ANZAC Day, was held for the first time on the grounds of the residence for the Australian Embassy and as is traditional began at 5:30 in the morning just before dawn.
ANZAC Day is one of Australia’s most important national commemorative occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldier forces quickly became known as ANZACs and the pride they soon took in that name is known on this day.
According to the program at this morning’s commemoration, the ANZAC commemoration began simply at 4:00 AM in 1919 in Toowoomba. Captain Harrington and a group of friends visited all known graves and memorials of men killed in action in World War 1 and placed flowers (not poppies) on the headstones. Afterwards they toasted their mates with rum. In 1920 and 1921 these men followed a similar pattern but adjourned to Picnic Point at the top of the range and toasted their mates until the first rays of dawn appeared. A bugler sounded the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’.
Lt. Colonel Richard Watson, DefenceDefense Attaché to FSM, Palau, RMI, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu gave the call to commemoration. He reminded the people in attendance that the price for the Battle of Gallipoli was not only thousands of soldiers who died or who were wounded. The families of those soldiers also suffered. Watson poignantly shared his memories of the effects of that battle on his own family. He spoke of one relative who spent 40 years in silence after losing a loved one at Gallipoli. He also talked of his memories as a child when he heard a great uncle screaming out in terror. When he asked why he was told that his uncle was remembering things that he shouldn’t.
On this day in Pohnpei, Lt. Colonel Watson said that those memories and those people should never be forgotten.
“Youth for Change” performed a different and moving rendition of “Abide With Me”, hauntingly accompanied by the ukulele.
The poetry chosen for this year’s ANZAC Day Commemoration did not whitewash the horror that was the Battle of Gallipoli. The poems spoke of the men who died horrific deaths and many who were gravely wounded during what Lt. Colonel Watson called a poorly planned campaign. The poems also spoke of the many loved ones who were left behind to grieve and to deal with the aftermath of that horrific battle. The poems also served as a reminder that we should never forget the sacrifices that were made and were not in vain.
Commemorative wreaths were laid at a the foot of the flag poles bearing the flags of Australia and New Zealand after which the Last Post was sounded while officers of the FSM National Police first raised the flags to the top of the mast and then lowered them to half mast. One minute of silence was recognized before the flags were once again raised to the top of the poles as Reveille was sounded.
The National Anthems of Australia and New Zealand were then played before Australia Ambassador Fraser gave the ANZAC address.
A traditional “gunfire breakfast” of bacon and egg biscuits was served after the conclusion of the ceremony. A single shot of rum for those who wished to take it was also available to commemorate the ration that ANZACs received before going to battle.