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Ataturk Memorial - ANZAC Day 2016

Ataturk Memorial - ANZAC Day 2016

It was the waves, the dull sound, not a roar, but a rumble.

A sound dissipated by the distance we were from the surf.

Rolling in, deep, smooth swells.

Breaking onto rocks, jagged and bare.

That's what I watched as I stood in the bright sun today, Zara sleeping on my back.

At the Ataturk Memorial - for the small service commemorating ANZAC day.

I've always liked this service, more than the Dawn Service. It's smaller, more intimate - and in previous years far less organised.

This time there was a powhiri, a small section of brass, a usefully powerful sound system, MPs from left and right, and several councillors, as well as their corresponding Turkish counterparts.

Moments then...

Maggie Barry, her radio and TV presenting experience to to the fore, stepping out from place in the dignitaries line, to stride to the microphone and adjust it so that Damla Yeşim Say, the Turkish Ambassador could be heard.

The young fella, proud in his Scots College uniform, playing the Last Post strongly, with the brass band behind him.

Maggie Barry pulling her phone out of her pocket to take photos of the wreath laying ceremony - as the strains of the Last Post were still being blown...

People arriving on time, but due to the physical constraints of the site, having to walk around assorted military personal, VIPs, medics and through the middle of the presentation space to find places.

And with no bother - no security blocking routes. Half a dozen police, at least one DPS, but all discreet. Diligent.

People have to walk to get to the Ataturk, so were mostly dressed as Kiwis do on a crisp, sunny, autumn day - relaxed, walking shoes, shorts, sweatshirts tied around waists, caps and floppy hats to keep the sun off.

The local kuia, singing the national anthem ... and then breaking into 'Now is the Hour' - but no-one else knowing they were going to do so, so the vocals going a bit karoake style warbly for a bit.

The young fella and his black lab, moving back out of the way, so that some kids could get through the plants to see better.

The crystal clear sky pale blue, with flights taking off regularly during the service. The Bluebridge heading south to Picton.

Reminders that life and work continues.

Babies crying, and being calmed by Mums.

All good.

The little kid who clasped his hands over his ears as the bagpipes whirled up and the Lament was played.

The Ballad for Chanakkale (Çanakkale türküsü) recited in Turkish was powerful, but made me think of Erdoğan, and all that Turkey is struggling with.

A Google search for the ballad throws up a number of stridently militaristic Youtube videos, which were in stark contrast to the mood of the event.

Karen asking why I didn't sing the anthem.

Idiosyncratic perhaps, but I prefer not to sing the anthem on the 25th - to just stand and be. For me it's a day of reflection, and for me the anthem doesn't add to that reflection.

The local Turkish community setting up a table at the end and sharing helva, a traditional treat served at the death of someone.

The only jarring moment really?

As the four young military personel, who'd been the honour guard around the monument throughout, tried to form up to march their final section, on the narrow path, away from the memorial - they were interupted by Maggie Barry's minder, who took it upon herself to push through them with an "Excuse me, the Minister is trying to get through".

That seemed an odd way to honour the memories of those who served, by pushing those who serve out of the way, on behalf of a Minister who literally moments before had been doing all of the pomp and circumstance.

To be unable to wait for all of a minute seemed churlish, and I say that knowing people such as this have busy schedules... but still.

To their credit, these troops stepped back and let her pass, then reformed and completed their duties respectfully.

In the end, as we walked back along the ridgeline to where the car was parked.

I was struck again, by the waves.

The sound, the sense. endless, boundless.

We're really very small. But in the making of our stories, crude and arrogant as they sometimes are, we're part of that sense.

A small part, but one nonetheless.


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