The annual ANZAC Day ceremony was held in Dili yesterday morning as it is in most places where Australians and New Zealanders can get together in numbers. Last year, it was held at the deserted heliport but this year, the heliport is a thriving ADF (Australian Defence Force) facility.
This year it is was held on the grass verge just outside the front of Camp Phoenix – the ISF (international stabilisation force) HQ. All Australians and New Zealanders were welcome, but it is a public event and there is nothing stopping anyone coming to observe – the main impediment being that you have to be there before dawn.
The ANZAC Day ceremony being a tribute to those who have fought for their country was quite appropriately put together by the ADF and NZDF, with speeches and prayers from several army personnel and the ambassadors of Australia and New Zealand. The NZDF put in a fine singing performance.
Coffee and Bundaberg run was served for all guests which numbered around 300, including many Australian and New Zealand police, many of the OZ/NZ community and a small contingent of Turkish UN police.
It may have been a public holiday in OZ and NZ but just another day here in Dili (for most).
Note : ANZAC Day tends to focus on the Dardanelles campaign of the First World War where OZ and NZ troops (amongst others) fought the Turks at Gallipoli (more correctly Gelibolu). Historically, both Australia and Turkey regard the Turkish victory as defining moments in their country’s histories.