April 24 is Kapyong Day, the day in 1951 when my old battalion 3RAR fought back thousands of Chinese and Korean soldiers in one long and desperate night. I feel incredibly proud even to this day for having been at one time a custodian of the great legacy forged by these men. There's a great description of what happened in the Battle of Kapyong in The Age from 2011 at this link if you'd like to learn more.
While today marks Kapyong Day, a very special day for my former battalion, this post is equally to mark ANZAC Day on 25 April and to pay my respects to all the diggers and officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
I wanted to mark Kapyong and ANZAC Day appropriately on this blog, and what came to mind was a photo essay of sorts that streams through my Facebook newsfeed every year at this time from one of our nearest and dearest friends, Elaine, a proud New Zealander who makes a yearly pilgrimage to Gallipoli to take care of and attend to New Zealand veterans who travel there for the service.
Elaine has kindly OK'd me to show you a selection of her images from this latest trip, so as to provide an exclusive visual insight into what's actually happening in Gallipoli at this time of year as the nations jointly prepare for the international visitors on 25 April.
This collection of images - featuring red poppies, national flags, azure seas, grey plaques, camouflage uniforms, row upon row of crosses, rocky beaches and lone pine are haunting and beautiful at the same time.
One of the strongest feelings conjured for me via these images is the collaboration, camaraderie and sense of shared loss between the nations today - all working together to recognize this monumental turning point in our combined histories and to ensure a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives at this now sacred site.
While my wife Sarah was blown away by the ethereal beauty of Gallipoli when she visited more than ten years ago, I hope to also pay my respects one day with my entire family in tow. In the meantime, thank you so much again Elaine for allowing us to share your experiences of Gallipoli 2013.
Tomorrow, on ANZAC Day, I'll attend the local dawn service before spending a relaxed day with family, including Sar's dad, a WWII veteran of the US Merchant Navy. We won't march this year, but we will drink a toast and remember those who served and lost their lives fighting for our freedom.
Lest we forget.
Want to receive future blogs by email? Fill in your details below.