Yesterday I found my way through the streets of Beer Sheva to the Park of the Australian Soldier.
My first time to see the annual commemoration and to see the new park, and both were very impressive.
The e-mail read "The Pratt Foundation and the Municipality of Be’er Sheva invite you to the commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the Battle of Be’er Sheva, marking the fall of the Ottoman controlled city of Be’er Sheva to ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and British troops on 31 October 1917."
After morning tea the many guests took their seats and the ceremony opened with a long blast of a long and curling shofar.
The nice new Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Dave Sharma, gave a good speech about the great importance of the Battle of Beersheva.
BTW, he is Australia's youngest ambassador anywhere in the world.
Military representatives of Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and the United Nations were there.
Many Zionist youth movements attended, as did classes of high school students.
Dr. Apple, Rabbi Emeritus of Sydney's Great Synagogue, was expected to give a memorial prayer but he spoke instead about the recent attack on five Jews at Bondi beach.
The Australian youth groups joined in singing Advance Australia Fair and Hatikva.
Please enlarge the sign to read the story of the famous battle, history's last great cavalry charge.
The U.N. men from UNTSO and MFO were happy to pose for anyone with a camera.
Israelis are not used to seeing fancy dress uniforms and medals.
Everyone then went across town to the Beersheba War Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission says their cemetery contains 1,241 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 67 of them unidentified.
In the Light Horse charge on Beersheva, 31 Australians were killed.
At least 70 horses were also killed in the audacious battle.
Again there was the laying of wreaths.
I asked for a poppy and the digger asked to put it by a soldier's grave.
I found a Jewish grave.
There are many more at the Jerusalem War Cemetery on Mt. Scopus.
The morning's ceremonies concluded a block away, at Atatürk Plaza, at the obelisk.
Carved in its stone:
1914-1918THIS MONUMENT IS DEDICATED TO 298 HONOURABLE TURKISH ARMY SOLDIERS FALLEN AT THE BE'ER SHEVA FRONT FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR COUNTRY
The distinguished representative of Turkey spoke (in English) about the martyrs who died defending the then-Ottoman town of Beer Sheva.
He was proud to see the old Turkish train station behind him, part of the famous Hijaz Railway, being carefully restored as he spoke.
We stood for the Turkish and the Israeli national anthems.
Wreaths were placed at the foot of the tall obelisk, which was built in 2002.
With the strained Israel-Turkey relations in the last few years, it was very special to see the two flags flying side by side.
Let's hope Atatürk's motto, "Peace at home, peace in the world," will someday be true for all countries in the Middle East.
For more see Australian blogger-teacher Hels' post http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/australian-and-new-zealand-light.html