I was very sad to read in this morning's paper that under the new regime in Turkey, these words, attributed to Ataturk, have been "roughly chiselled off" the memorial to New Zealand and Australian soldiers at Anzac Cove, at Gallipoli.
The words read:
'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 faraway 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.'
It doesn't matter whether Mustafa Kemal Ataturk actually said the words or not; what matters is that the Memorial paid official tribute to, and showed genuine appreciation of, the roughly 11,500 soldiers from our two countries who died there in that terrible campaign in 1915.
I was lucky enough to be there in April 2015, a few days before the annual Anzac Day Commemoration ceremonies. Every year, thousands of New Zealanders visit the area, and pay tribute to our fallen heroes, those young men who never returned home. I found it an incredibly moving experience to be in that peaceful, beautiful place.
Lest we forget