Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 14 Gallipoli

Gallipoli

IMG_8231Without any hesitation I can state that this was the most moving and emotional day of the tour. Gallipoli is special.


Here it is from the air…

This incredible sign on the side of the hill says something to the effect:

Stop wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground

You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies;

Bend down and lend your ear, for this silent mound

Is the place where the heart of a nation sighs.

These are the first lines of a longer Turkish poem about the Gallipoli campaign:

Stop wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground
You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies;
Bend down and lend your ear, for this silent mound
Is the place where the heart of a nation sighs.

 

To the left of this deserted shadeless lane
The Anatolian slope now observe you well;
For liberty and honor, it is, in pain,
Where wounded Mehmet laid down his life and fell

 

This very mound, when violently shook the land,
When the last bit of earth passed from hand to hand,
And when Mehmet drowned the enemy in flood,
Is the spot where he added his own pure blood.

 

Think ,the consecrated blood and flesh and bone
That make up this mould, is where a whole nation,
After a harsh and pitiless war; alone
Tasted the joy of freedom with elation.

 

                                     Necmettin Halil Onan

 

It is clearly visible to us as we board the ferry to cross to the Gallipoli peninsular.


The previous night at our hotel we had watched a video presentation about the Gallipoli conflict. It was powerful, but balanced, and well produced. What it reported didn’t surprise me, because I had studied this conflict in high school, but I still learned quite a bit particularly about the Turkish perspective on it. Some of the group, however, were deeply affected by it, and it was quite painful. We prayed, discussed, and ministered to one another… and of course, I love that stuff!

The text for the day was Psalm 90, which includes the cry:

Turn, O Lord! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.

– Psalm 90:13-15

As will become clear below, I reflected today on a cry of a similar structure, but it didn’t arise from Psalm 90 as such.

IMG_8256When we got across the peninsula to the ocean side, we stopped at a memorial near Anzac Cove. The famous “Simpson” is buried there.


 

To quote from Anzac.net:

Colonel John Monash wrote “Private Simpson and his little beast earned the admiration of everyone at the upper end of the valley. They worked all day and night throughout the whole period since the landing, and the help rendered to the wounded was invaluable. Simpson knew no fear and moved unconcernedly amid shrapnel and rifle fire, steadily carrying out his self imposed task day by day, and he frequently earned the applause of the personnel for his many fearless rescues of wounded men from areas subject to rifle and shrapnel fire.”

IMG_8264Of course, many others are buried there, and everyone who appreciates the Simpson story is using it to identify with each and every serviceman who lost his life. Simpson represents them all.

There are countless headstones. I think that just including one here is the most appropriate thing.  Well might we say, “Lest we forget”.


 

IMG_8271We then proceeded just a little further to another memorial, where Ataturk’s message is prominently displayed in English, with a small plaque in Turkish right in front. It is a profound challenge to read it aloud without that choking sensation in one’s throat.

It should be remembered that Ataturk was the commander of the 57th Regiment at the time of the invasion. His regiment faced the attack and was slaughtered almost to a man, through the ensuing battles. He lost many friends, and was facing the Anzacs as an invading enemy force.

This is what he writes, later in his career, as the new Turkish nation’s leader:

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

Ataturk 1934

IMG_8272It was another beautiful beach-side memorial.


 


ANZAC Cove

Then there was ANZAC Cove. Yes, that’s the official Turkish name of the place.


 

IMG_8289It didn’t have hundreds of headstones. It didn’t have a message from Ataturk. It had two lawn areas, some stone memorial walls, and it was surrounded by those massive, imposing hills, that anyone would struggle to climb at all, let alone with a pack, a weapon, and relentless enemy fire.


We held a little memorial service there. It was… amazing.


 

Fighter1We were treated to a surprise fly-by, by the Turkish airforce!


 

IMG_8287aThe girls led us in “It is well with my soul”, which was positively angelic. I found I wasn’t able to join in very well. I think I had something in my eye.


I was given the task of reading the key verse from The Ode:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

I was invited to pray also. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to preach a little in the process, which to me is part of praying. I didn’t write it down at the time, but this is the thrust of it:

In a moment we will observe a minute of silence.

There’s a Christmas Carol which includes the refrain, “Do you hear what I hear?” and I’ve been pondering all morning as we have been driving across the Gallipoli peninsular, whether anyone else hears what I hear. Perhaps when we observe the silence, you might hear what I hear.

When Cain killed Abel, God’s response was this: “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” (Genesis 4:10)

We are standing on fields and hills that are soaked in blood. It is the blood of innocent men, sent to fight a battle that they didn’t start. It is the blood of decent people, made to fight and kill and die. It is the blood of fathers, sons, and brothers. Their blood has an audience with God as it cries out from the ground.

Do you hear what I hear?

When I boldly approach the throne of God, which happens as I pray, the voice of the blood of the innocent is constantly there. When I am in the presence of God, I am also in the presence of the cry of the blood of Abel. I never escape it. It is there with God constantly.

“Injustice”, it cries…

“Waste”…

“Brutality”…

“Inhumanity”…

and all of this is coming before the throne of my God, and I must stand in the middle of it as I pray. It never ceases. Do you hear what I hear?

Add to this the voice of the martyrs, the souls under the altar:  ‘Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ (Revelation 6:10). I hear those voices too. They have a voice before the throne of my God. Do you hear what I hear?

If these were the only voices in the throne room of God, there would be no hope at all. The world would be damned for this. No wonder the silent witness was weeping in the Revelation of the throne room, before he saw the slain lamb of God, the lion of the tribe of Judah! (Revelation 5:1-8)

And now there is another voice in the throne room of God. It too, is the voice of blood, but it is a voice that tells a better word than the blood of Abel. It is the voice of the blood of Christ (Hebrews 12:24).

This blood cries, “Healing”…

“Hope”…

“Redemption”…

“Forgiveness”…

“Reconciliation”…

“Peace”…

… and it answers the cry of every drop of Abel’s blood; and it answers the cry of the blood of the innocent; and it answers the cry of the blood of the martyrs.

When I stand before my God, and when I am in His presence, these two sets of voices are always there, crying out and being answered, crying out and being answered, over, and over, and over, ceaselessly, until my prayer becomes, “Come, Lord Jesus, amen”.

That is what it’s like for me when I pray. Do you hear it, too?

Lest we forget the blood of Abel.

Lest we forget the blood of Christ.

Stop Press: I recently had the opportunity to reflect on this experience as I preached on the ANZAC Day weekend. Here is the sermon I preached, which is inspired by what you see above: The Trumpet shall Sound, and the Dead shall be Raised – The Good News of Resurrection, Judgement, and Justice

 

Lone Pine Memorial

IMG_8297

 

IMG_8306 IMG_8304 IMG_8301 IMG_8299 IMG_8310 IMG_8309 IMG_8308

IMG_8312


Turkish 57th Regiment Memorial

IMG_8319 IMG_8316 IMG_8325 IMG_8324 IMG_8323 IMG_8321 IMG_8320

 


 

Lest we forget.


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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 3 Corinth and Athens

Posted on Jan 12th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 4 The Oracle of Delphi

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The Oracle of Delphi We headed out from Athens, and in a two hour trip we saw an amazing landscape change from cityscape, to countryside, to…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 5 Athens – Istanbul – Cappadocia

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 6 Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 7 Mevlana Museum, Pisidian Antioch

Posted on Jan 16th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

Mevlana Museum, Pisidian Antioch Beforehand, I would have expected Mevlana Museum to be irrelevant, and Pisidian Antioch to be somewhat interesting.…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 8 Hierapolis, Pamukkale Pools, Colossae, Laodicea

Posted on Jan 17th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

Hierapolis, Pamukkale Pools, Colossae, Laodicea Oh my goodness, what a day!   Hierapolis Hierapolis is mentioned in the Bible only…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 9 Philadelphia, Sardis, Kusadasi

Posted on Jan 18th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

Philadelphia, Sardis, Kusadasi Happy birthday to me! January 18th is my birthday, and someone on tour happened to ask, just a couple of…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 10 Ephesus

Posted on Jan 19th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 11 Patmos

Posted on Jan 20th, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 2 Comments

Patmos We had an early start, so that we had time for the four hour boat ride to Patmos from Kusadasi... and four hours back again! We passed…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 12 Smyrna, Thyateria, Pergamon

Posted on Jan 21st, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 0 Comments

Smyrna (Izmir), Thyateria, Pergamon (Bergama) It's a big day when you visit three sites. On top of that, two out of these particular three were…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 13 Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy

Posted on Jan 22nd, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 4 Comments

Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy Today we visited three sites, and all were impressive. It was another big day for all of us. He didn't let on, but I…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 14 Gallipoli

Posted on Jan 23rd, 2014 - By Kevin Bennett - 4 Comments

Gallipoli Without any hesitation I can state that this was the most moving and emotional day of the tour. Gallipoli is special. Here it…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 15 (and 16) Istanbul

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 Istanbul This is quite a town! It has twice the population of the largest city in Australia. The road rules seem to be taken as no more than a…

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Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: In Review

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The Greece and Turkey Trip in Review After we returned, I wrote a little summary of the Study Tour for my Bible College's magazine, Summa Supremo. I…

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4 Responses so far.

  1. Mary Irvine says:

    A very moving experience, Kevin. It sounds amazing.

  2. Gary Truloff says:

    I think we sometimes fail to see the significance of Gallipoli for the Turkish…they were fighting for their own land.

  3. Yeah, desperately!

    The part I didn’t appreciate beforehand is that just a matter of months later, after all this bloodshed and successfully repelling the invasion, under the terms of the armistice they lost their sovereignty anyway, and the Ottoman Empire was divided up among the allies. So the Anzacs are not the only ones coming away from this with an overwhelming sense of waste and senselessness.

    Ataturk later (1930s) led the revolutionary war which formed what is now Turkey.

  4. Rae Kappler says:

    I really enjoyed my Gallipoli experience on Anzac Day 2013………fabulous and yet sooooo exhausting.

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