Gallipoli, the making of two nations. (April 2012)

We know the peninsula on the coast of Dardanelles as Gallipoli, while the Turks know it as Gelibolu.

Australians and New Zealanders come here in their thousands, especially around April 25.

The Turks come here in their thousands every weekend to picnic and pay respect to their fallen heroes.

The battle for Gallipoli defined the Anzac spirit but it was also a defining moment in the growth of the Turkish Republic.

Half a million men lost their lives on this peninsula and half of them were Turks.

They were lead by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a Turkish officer who had as much luck as he did strategic and military skills. Legend has it that his gold pocket watch saved him from a piece of shrapnel while he was watching the battle at Chunuk Bair.

Although he was only a Colonel he devised the strategy and lead the battle to defend the Dardanelles.

In 1924 Ataturk became the first Prime Minister of the new Republic.

The Turkish people have a great respect for Gelibolu and an admiration for the non Turks who died on their soil.

This is best expressed by these words, found on monuments that are everywhere on the peninsula. Words that were written by Ataturk in 1934.

“Heroes who 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 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.”

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