We passed through Gallipoli only days before the centennial, and the peninsula was full of visitors from Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. As I watched the people who were so obviously not from around here, with their sunburned skin and khaki shorts, so far away from home, I felt a knot in my gut. I don't really know what it means to them, this history; how this piece of land and its blood-soaked soil can pull so many back to it, all the way from the far ends of the Earth— and all regions of Turkey. It is terrible and heart-breaking, and yet so wonderful— wonderful that the names carved into stone monuments and tomb markers will not be forgotten, that those whose names were lost to time, will be thought of.
I do not have much of a national identity nor a tie to specific histories, and there were many times throughout my life that I envied my friends who knew they were from somewhere— they knew what they belonged to. I can only imagine what it must feel like to buy that ticket and plan the trip to Gallipoli, to arrive under a clear blue sky and walk between the immaculate white stones, gazing at the bay...
It must be overwhelming.
Though I am not a Turk, an Australian, a New Zealander, or from anywhere connected to the history of this peninsula, I am always deeply moved when I visit Gallipoli.