Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day tribute to our ally Australia

I Treo-blogged about this a couple of weeks ago, but since today is Memorial Day, and I have pictures now, I thought today would be a good day to revisit my encounter with the Australian motorcyclists at the Vicksburg, Mississippi Welcome Center. That's the Misssippi River in front of the men, with Louisiana on the other side. The two bridges are worthy symbols of the relationship between Australia and the United States.

Although it's fairly recent history, many people in the United States forget that besides the South Vietnamese Army, we had other allies in Vietnam. One of them was Australia, which fielded combat forces there until the end of 1972.

Even though the man on the right doesn't proclaim it on the back of his leather vest, he's an Australian Vietnam War veteran as well. I briefly spoke with him, and he expressed suprise that I knew his nation also fought the Communinists in Indo-China. "You must have been in the military, ay?" is what he said to me. I replied I that had not, but that I appreciated his country's frienship with mine.

The two fellows in the picture, along with two other men, were halfway into a cross-country motorcycle tour. As I was that day, they were on their way to the Vicksburg Battlefield.

As the small flag on the back of one of the motorcycles declares the Aussies have fought with us in numerous other conflicts since 1900, including China (the Boxer Rebellion), both World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Australia doesn't have a Memorial Day, but the nation celebrates ANZAC Day each April 25, as does New Zealand. ANZAC is short for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and it is a remembrance day for the soldiers who fought against Turkey at Gallipoli during World War I. Over the years, it has evolved into a day celebrating veterans and fallen members of the military.

God Bless Australia!

UPDATE 10:35 PM CST: ThirdWaveDave tipped me off to an Andrea Shea King Voice of Liberty podcast where she reads an e-mail sent to Matt of Blackfive from the father of an Australian soldier serving in Iraq.

Here's an excerpt:

When I come home, you and I we are going to the US, we will buy some bikes and we are going riding...."

And stop by Vicksburg, if you can.

Download the podcast here. It's free.

Related post:

Vicksburg and a teleconference call with John McCain

Thanks for the links:

Australian Politics
Stop the ACLU
The Astute Bloggers

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Damian, Brisbane, Australia said...

Thanks for acknowledging the alliance between our two countries has in effect existed for 100 years. The similarities between our nations and our cultures are far greater than the differences. May it ever be so.

It is right and proper that free nations remember those who have lost there lives through war. It makes the freedoms we enjoy that much more important. So I say with you:
"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". Lest We Forget.

Anzac Day has become an amazing experience shared between Australia and New Zealand and our former foe (but now ally) Turkey.

For a long time there were fears that the memory was fading and that it would diminish into nothing. However, as the number of Gallipoli veterans began to fall to not much more than a handful, the young learnt about the sacrifice and reclaimed Anzac Day.

For the past 20 years tens of thousands of young travelling Australians and New Zealanders make a pilgrimage to the site on the shore of Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, more than 15,000km from there homes.

Each Anzac Day for the past 20 years thousands have met for the dawn service (the time of the landing) at the Cove. A month ago more than 10,000 slept through the night in the open to be there for the service attended by dignitaries from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. Is this unique in the world? That 10,000 people travel half way round the world to offer their respects on a single day? I don't know but it would have to be bloody close.

The Turks have protected and honoured our fallen in the 6 month campaign for almost 100 years. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (the father of modern Turkey) who faced our forces throughout the campaign later wrote:

"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. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

It is good to remember. But better to learn.

John Ruberry said...

Wow...maybe the best comment ever left on this blog. Thanks!