March 18-24

…when the night and day are equally divided, Buddha appears on earth for a week to save stray souls and lead them to Nirvana.”


Thus, in Japan the Sundays prior to the spring equinox (shuubun no hi) and the fall equinox (shunbun no hi) are known as O-higan. Days on which families visit and honor the graves of the departed. Ancestors are said to watch over the family like tutelary, guardian deities. That’s why we give thanks to our ancestors whenever we encounter success or prosperity . (But of course if we fail, it’s our own damn fault.)

Favorite foods are prepared for the departed, such as Ohagi (soft rice balls covered in sweetened bean jam), sushi, and vinegar rice & veggies. On the last day of the week, rice flour dumplings, special fruits and sweets are offered.

In Buddhism, O-higan is a time to focus on the 6 Perfections, or Pāramitā:

1. Dana – generosity

2. Sila – virtue

3. Ksanti – patience

4. Virya – effort

5. Dhyana – meditation (also ‘zen’)

6. Prajna – wisdom


The O-higan days have been celebrated in Japan since the 8th century. The name Higan literally means, “the other shore” and is short for Tohigan—to arrive at the other shore. The 6 Pāramitā are the bridge that will enable us to cross over to the other shore of Nirvana.

Victory of Canakkale

March 18


The long and brutal battle for the Dardanelles is one of the most commemorated campaigns of the 20th century.

Australia and New Zealand remember the Battle of Gallipoli each year on April 25, the anniversary of the first engagement of ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) in World War I.

Turkey, meanwhile, remembers the nine-month campaign each year on March 18—the anniversary of the 1915 naval battle of Canakkale which, had the Allies succeeded, would have paved the way for the capture of Istanbul. Turkey calls March 18th the “Victory of Canakkale”, or the more sobering title Martyrs’ Day.

The Allies’ plan was to combine their naval strength to blast their way through the Dardanelles, a stretch of water connecting the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea. The Dardanelles are 60 km long and a maximum of 7 km wide. At its narrowest point (appropriately named “the Narrows”) overlooked by the city of Canakkale, the shores are separated by a mere 1600 feet.


By taking the Dardanelles, the Allies, led by France and Britain, would have a route from the Mediterranean to their Russian Allies, while cutting off the Germans from their ally the Ottomans (Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time), effectively removing the Ottoman Empire from the war.

However, on March 18, after a month of French and British naval bombardment, the Allied attempt to breach the Dardanelles met a disastrous failure. The fleet failed to clear the minefields strategically placed by the Ottomans and several key British and French warships were destroyed.

It became clear to the Allies that Turkish resistance was too strong for a purely naval victory. They sent in ground troops, including tens of thousands of eager Australian and New Zealand recruits.

Against the armed might of four nations, including two of the most powerful navies in the Western world, Turkish armed forces held their ground for a full nine months. The long campaign and victory in January 1916—like the initial victory on March 18, 1915—fueled national pride and cohesiveness across the land that would be Turkey.

Much of the success of the defense of Canakkale is attributed to the strategic foresight of a young commander by the name of Mustafa Kemal.

After World War I, Mustafa Kemal went on to lead forces in the Turkish War for Independence, and became the founder and leader of the new nation of Turkey. He is probably the most significant figure in the creation of of Turkey as we know it today, and because of the significance of Canakkale, many view 1915—not 1923—as the true birth year of the Turkish state.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at Gallipoli, 1915
Mustafa Kemal at Gallipoli, 1915

One side won, one side lost. But statistics tell another story.

The Turks and the Allies suffered nearly a quarter million casualties each—that’s over half of all men on both sides who fought in the nine-month battle.

“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 far away 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.”

— Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, 1934

Memorial Day

last Monday in May
May 30, 2011
May 28, 2012

In the United States the May tradition of honoring the dead of wars past began after the Civil War. In individual towns in the South, women would lay flowers and wreaths atop the graves of their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons.  It was called Decoration Day. The song “Kneel Where Our Loves Are Sleeping” was published in 1867 with the dedication “to the ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”

“Kneel where our loves are sleeping. They lost but still were good and true.
Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting, We weep, ’tis all that we can do.”

The following year the Commander of the U.S. Army, moved by the ceremonies of the South, declared a similar tradition in the North.

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land…

“Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.”

Three decades after the Civil War, Richard Burton wrote his famous “Memorial Day“.

Now is the cleavage deep of North and South
Well closed, —the years o’er-cover it, as grass
Softens and sweetens some dry place of drouth
When comes the blessed rain; the requiem-mass
Is chanted of the mood that shattered peace:
Where common sorrows are, anger must cease:
Sorrow and love remain, while passions pass…

How like cathedral chimes the names we know,
Ringing above a leal united land:
Bull Run, Antietam
; Gettysburg, Shiloh,
Sherman’s grim march
to reach the white sea-strand,
Lookout’s cloud fight
, The Wilderness, —each bell
Reverberating valor—list! they tell
How Lincoln and Lee are friends, and understand.

What is a patriot? Not the man who swears:
“My country, right or wrong;” nor he who claims
That sacred thing, yet like a dastard dares
To use her to his ends, to hide his shames;

For higher, holier than the will to war
The will to love, —now may the path of Peace
Within our states be like the pilot star
In the night sky, by myriads to increase
As the millennium broadens, gleam by gleam:
This is the prophet’s word, the poet’s dream:
All nations living in love’s great release.


"Beneath this stone repose the bones of 2,111 unknown soldiers..." Arlington Cemetery

Southern states still observe separate dates for honoring the Confederate dead.

Texas – January 19;
Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida – April 26
South Carolina – May 10
Louisiana and Tennessee –  June 3

After WWI, Memorial Day included remembering the dead of other wars, not just the Civil War.
To date, more Americans died in the Civil War than in all other wars combined.

Francis Miles Finch’s The Blue and The Gray

Stonewall Jackson Day

May 10

“Had Jackson lived to command the right or left wing at Gettysburg, the Confederacy might be approaching its 150th year of independence today.”

– General Wesley Clark, “Stonewall Jackson“, by D. Davis

Two years ago, I was informed by a reader and friend that it is the duty of Every Day’s a Holiday to warn unsuspecting visitors to South Carolina not to bother going to the DMV on May 10. Any such excursions will certainly result in failure. For today state offices, banks, and businesses shut down to honor the memory of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, a man better known by his nickname: “Stonewall”.

Jackson has one-and-a-half holidays devoted to him. South Carolina commemorates the anniversary of his death on May 10, while Virginia combines the birthdays of Jackson (January 21, 1824) and Robert E. Lee (January 19, 1807) to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day.

Jackson lost his father and mother at an early age, and was raised by relatives. The orphan attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and despite starting with an educational handicap, he graduated 17th out of a class of 59. He then served in the Mexican-American War, and taught at the Virginia Military Institute.

Three months after the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Jackson was promoted to Brigider-General.

Stonewall Jackson as a young man, Virginia Military Institute

At the First Battle of Bull Run, when Union forces broke through Confederate lines, Jackson’s troops stood their ground defending the hill, causing Confederate General Barnard Bee to exclaim to his men, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall!” The name stuck. “Stonewall” Jackson and his “Stonewall Brigade” became symbols of Southern bravery.

Of course there may be another reason Jackson stood like a stone wall. As a student at West Point, one of Jackson’s many eccentricities was a belief that, if he bent over, it could damage his internal organs.

Jackson’s odd behaviors and personality traits caused some modern scholars to suggest…

“Stonewall Jackson meets the criteria for Asperger Syndrome, with clear evidence of a qualitative impairment in social interaction and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. Although individuals with Asperger Syndrome demonstrate major problems in social relationships, many are capable of great creativity because of their ability to focus on a single topic — in this case, on the field of battle and in military affairs.”

Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World, by Michael Fitzgerald and Brendan O’Brien

Jackson was one of the greatest military strategists in U.S. history. By October he was promoted to Major General. He led his troops to striking victories in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. The Stonewall Brigade distinguished itself at Antietam and numerous other battles. It’s been said that had Jackson lived long enough to assist Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg, the South might have won the war’s bloodiest stalemate, and maybe even the war.

But it wasn’t to be. Jackson met his end at the Battle of Chancelorsville in May 1863. Jackson showed little concern regarding bullets whizzing about him, and on May 2, he was wounded by Confederate troops who mistook his convoy for Yanks. His arm was amputated, and he died of misdiagnosed pneumonia eight days later.

“Sadly, in April of 1865, only 210 men from the original Stonewall Brigade were left at Appomattox.  Because of the reputation of the brigade on both sides of the war, the Stonewall Brigade was the first to march through the Federal lines at the surrender.”

— www.stonewallbrigade.com

Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

Workers Memorial Day

April 28

Today is a National Day of Mourning in Canada. Not for those killed in wars or natural disasters, but for those who made the fatal mistake of showing up to work.

Internationally the day is known as Workers Memorial Day. The date April 28 was chosen because it’s the anniversary of Canada’s Workmen’s Compensation Act, passed in 1914, which created the predecessor of today’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board.

A random sampling of Canadians found that most had never heard of the National Day of Mourning, an effort by the Canadian Labour Congress to spread awareness of workplace safety. However, spokesperson Terry O’Connor believes the lack of safe working conditions is a growing problem in Canada.

“Canada continues to have one of the highest workplace fatality rates of any Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development country…In 2006, the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada reported 976 workplace fatalities in Canada, compared to 805 workplace fatalities in 1996 — an 18 per cent increase in a 10-year period.”

South of the border, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that fatal accidents on the job have declined since 1994 by 14%, while the number of people in the workforce has increased by the same amount. The most dangerous jobs in North America?

  • 10. Agricultural workers
  • 9. Truck Drivers/Drivers
  • 8. Roofers
  • 7. Electrical power line repairers
  • 6. Farmers & Ranchers
  • 5. Refuse collectors/recyclers
  • 4. Steel workers
  • 3. Loggers
  • 2. Pilots
  • And #1?


Yes, that crab you bite into comes a steep price, and we’re not just talking money. The occupational-fatality rate for commercial fishing is over 20 times the national average.

17 Minutes That Changed America

Overall North American working conditions have greatly improved since Upton Sinclair wrote his scathing look at America’s meatpacking industry in The Jungle over 100 years ago. His aim was to raise awareness of the plight of exploited workers, many of them women and children in dangerous conditions for long hours and for the lowest of wages.

But the reading public cared more about what was going into their hot dogs (hint: you thought soylent green was nasty?…) than for the workers’ plight. When foreign sales of American meat products declined by 50%, Washington established the Food and Drug Administration to improve the food industry’s appalling standards.

It would take 146 deaths in a single day to spark outcry for legislation that would improve workplace safety.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Company, the “largest blouse-making operation in New York,” was located on Washington Place and Greene Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Each day 500 workers, mostly young immigrant girls, crowded into the factory. At 4:40 pm on March 25, a bin under a wooden desk on the eighth floor caught fire (most likely from a tossed cigarette).

When workers first spotted the flame they tried to put it out with water, but the scraps of cotton fabric in the bin—more flammable than paper—turned the flame into a conflagration within seconds. Panic struck the workers, and…

“those clustered at the Greene Street partition stampeded into the small opening, pushing and shouting and wrestling toward the stairway. Behind them, others in the factory saw this pileup and ran toward the opposite corner of the room, where they bottlenecked at the Washington Place elevators…”

One worker on the 8th floor managed to reach the secretary and swicthboard operator on the 10th floor via telephone.

Most of the tenth floor executive staff escaped by climbing onto the roof and into a taller adjacent building. But when the switchboard operator left her post, there was no way to call and warn the 9th floor workers, since all calls had to be routed through the 10th floor.

Of the 146 victims, 140 worked on the ninth floor.

Fire blocked the stairwell. The one flimsy fire escape collapsed. The owners had locked the ninth floor doors from the outside to make sure the girls didn’t steal.

The doors opened inward, so by the time they were unlocked, the doors were impossible to open because of the weight of dozens of screaming employees crushed against them, trying to escape.

The fire hoses on the top floors lacked adequate water pressure. The weight of escapees in the elevator immobilized the unit. One girl survived by jumping down the elevator shaft, landing atop the elevator on its last trip.

Over fifty workers jumped out the windows of the 9th floor rather than be consumed by fire. When the last one jumped to her death it was 4:57.

These tragic seventeen minutes–and the furor that followed–laid the foundation for sweeping changes in the labor movement that continue to protect workers to this day.

Below is a list of those killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911. It was compiled by David Von Drehle, author of Triangle: The Fire That Changed America.

  • Lizzie Adler, 24
  • Anna Altman, 16
  • Anna Ardito, 25
  • Rosie Bassino, 31
  • Vincenza Bellota, 16
  • Ignazia Bellotta,
  • Vincenza Benenti, 22
  • Essie Bernsetin, 19
  • Jacob Bernstein, 28
  • Morris Bernstein, 19
  • Gussie Bierman, 22
  • Abraham Binevitz, 20
  • Rosie Brenman
  • Surka (Sarah) Brenman
  • Ida Brodsky, 16
  • Sarah Brodsky, 16
  • Ida (Ada) Brooks, 18
  • Laura Brunette, 17
  • Frances Caputto, 17
  • Josephine Carlisi, 31
  • Albina Caruso, 20
  • Josie Castello, 21
  • Rosie Cirrito, 18
  • Anna Cohen, 25
  • Antonia (Annie) Colletti, 30
  • Dora Dochman, 19
  • Kalman Downic, 24
  • Celia Eisenberg, 17
  • Rebecca Feibisch, 17 or 18
  • Yetta Fichtenhultz, 18
  • Daisy Lopez Fitze, 24
  • Tina Frank, 17
  • Rosie Freedman, 18
  • Molly Gerstein, 17
  • Celina Gettlin, 17
  • Esther Goldstein, 20
  • Lena Goldstein, 23
  • Mary Goldstein, 18
  • Yetta Goldstein, 20
  • Irene Grameatassio, 24
  • Bertha Greb, 25
  • Dinah Greenberg, 18
  • Rachel Grossman, 17
  • Rosie Grosso, 16
  • Esther Harris, 21
  • Mary Herman, 40
  • Esther Hochfield, 22
  • Fannie Hollander, 18
  • Pauline Horowitz, 19
  • Ida Jakofsky, 18
  • Augusta (Tessie) Kaplan, 18
  • Becky Kappelman, 18
  • Ida Kenowitz, 18
  • Becky Kessler, 19
  • Jacob Klein, 28
  • Bertha Kuhler, 20
  • Tillie Kupfersmith, 16
  • Sarah Kupla, 16
  • Benjamin (Benny) Kuritz, 19
  • Annie L’Abbato, 16
  • Fannie Lansner, 21
  • Mary Laventhal, 22
  • Jennie Lederman, 20
  • Nettie Lefkowitz, 23
  • Max Lehrer, 22
  • Sam Lehrer, 19
  • Kate Leone, 14
  • Rosie Lermarck, 19
  • Jennie Levin, 19
  • Pauline Levine, 19
  • Catherine Maltese, mother of Lucy & Sara
  • Lucia (Lucy) Maltese, 20
  • Rosaria (Sara) Maltese, 14
  • Maria Manara, 27
  • Bertha Manders, 22
  • Rose Manofsky, 22
  • Michela (Mechi) Marciano, 20
  • Yetta Meyers, 19
  • Bettina Miale, 18
  • Frances Miale, 21
  • Gaetana Midolo, 16
  • Becky Nebrerer, 19
  • Annie Nicholas, 18
  • Nicolina Nicolosci, 21 or 22
  • Annie Novobritsky, 20
  • Sadie Nussbaum, 18
  • Julia Oberstein, 19
  • Rose Oringer, 20
  • Becky Ostrowsky, 20
  • Carrie Ozzo, 22
  • Annie Pack, 18
  • Providencia Panno, 43
  • Antonietta Pasqualicca, 16
  • Ida Pearl, 20
  • Jennie Pildescu, 1
  • Millie Prato, 21
  • Becky Reivers, 19
  • Emma Rootstein
  • Israel Rosen, 17
  • Julia Rosen, 35, mother of Israel
  • Louis Rosen, 38
  • Yetta Rosenbaum, 22
  • Jennie Rosenberg, 21
  • Gussie Rosenfeld, 22
  • Nettie Rosenthal, 21
  • Theodore (Teddy) Rothner, 22
  • Sarah Sabasowitz, 17
  • Serephina (Sara) Saracino, 25
  • Teraphen (Tessie) Saracino, 20
  • Gussie Schiffman, 18
  • Theresa (Rose) Schmidt, 32
  • Ethel Schneider, 30
  • Violet Schochep, 21
  • Margaret Schwart, 24
  • Jacob Selzer, 33
  • Annie Semmilo, 30
  • Rosie Shapiro, 17
  • Beryl (Ben) Sklaver, 25
  • Rosie Sorkin, 18
  • Gussie Spunt, 19
  • Annie Starr, 30
  • Jennie Stellino, 16
  • Jennie Stern, 18
  • Jennie Stiglitz, 22
  • Samuel Tabick, 18
  • Clotilde Terdanova, 22
  • Isabella Tortorella, 17
  • Mary Ullo, 26
  • Meyer Utal, 23
  • Freda Velakowsky, 20
  • Bessie Viviano, 15
  • Rose Weiner, 23
  • Celia (Sally) Weintraub, 17
  • Dora Welfowitz, 21
  • Joseph Wilson, 21
  • Tessie Wisner, 21
  • Sonia Wisotsky, 17
  • Bertha Wondross, 18

A covered pier had to be converted to a makeshift morgue to make room for the bodies.

The factory’s owners were charged with manslaughter.

And were acquitted.

Confederate Memorial Day

April 26

“Spring comes early in the Gulf States, and April 26 has been made Confederate Memorial Day by Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia.

North and South Carolina have selected May 10.

“In Tennessee, the second Friday in May has been made Confederate Day.

Virginia keeps Confederate Memorial Day on May 30.

“So that as the spring advances, there are several observances of memorial day, beginning with the lower South, and following on, in the later spring, of States to the North, until Virginia and at the national capital both sides honor their departed heroes upon the same day.”

The South’s Care for her Confederate Veterans – William H. Glasson, American Monthly Review of Reviews, 1907

Confederate Memorial Day remembers the Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War, and is the predecessor of the national Memorial Day holiday. It’s observed on different dates throughout the South. In some states it’s a statutory holiday; it others it’s a holiday by proclamation.

Georgia law, for example, obliges the governor to proclaim a holiday on either January 19, April 26, or June 3 (Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia). Meanwhile, Mississippi observes Confederate-related holidays on the Mondays closest to all three of those dates.

Why January 19, April 26, and June 3?

January 19: the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. From 1983 to 2000, Virginia combined Lee’s birthday and General “Stonewall” Jackson’s birthday with, ironically enough, the national holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday (January 15) to form Lee-Jackson-King Day.)

June 3: the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

April 26: the anniversary of the single largest surrender of Confederate troops in 1865…General Johnson’s surrender to General Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina.

The End of the Civil War

Johnson’s surrender on April 26 was neither the first nor the last surrender of the Civil War.

General Lee had already surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865.

Jefferson Davis, meanwhile, wasn’t captured until May 10. (Also the anniversary of the 1863 death of “Stonewall” Jackson.

And technically, the last surrender wasn’t until November 6, when the crew of the CSS Shenandoah (who didn’t receive word of the war’s end until August) arrived in Liverpool, England. (They didn’t want to surrender to the Yanks.)

But General Johnson’s surrender entailed the Army of Tennessee as well as all active forces in Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas. Nearly 90,000 soldiers in all.

+  +  +

The impetus for Confederate Memorial Day, and Memorial Day in general, came from Ladies Memorial Associations, which grew out of women’s groups that supported the troops and cared for the wounded during the war.

According to the Encyclopedia of the American Civil War:

“The first LMAs assumed the grisly task of overseeing the reinterment of Southern soldiers from mass graves to individual graves in newly designated Confederate cemeteries… These same same women originated Confederate Memorial Day, an annual observance held each spring that paid homage to the soldiers who had died for the Southern cause.”

By 1865, it had become a tradition to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers.

As early as 1867 a song entitled Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” was dedicated to “The Ladies of the South Who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”

Kneel where our loves are sleeping
They lost but still were good and true
Our fathers, brothers fell still fighting
We weep, ’tis all that we can do

Several towns claims to have held the first Decoration Day ceremonies, on or around the first anniversary of Johnson’s surrender, including two towns named Columbus.

In Columbus, Mississippi, a group of women who were decorating the graves of Confederate soldiers also stopped to place flowers on the neglected graves of Union soldiers. The event made national news.

In Columbus, Georgia, meanwhile…

“The ladies are now and have been for several days engaged in the sad, but pleasant duty of ornamenting and improving that portion of the City Cemetery sacred to the memory of our gallant Confederate dead, but we feel it is an unfinished work unless a day be set apart annually for its especial attention…

“Therefore, we beg the assistance of the press and the ladies throughout the South to aid us in the efforts to set apart a certain day to be observed, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and be handed down through time as a religious custom of the South, to wreathe the graves of our martyred dead with flowers; and we propose the 26th day of April as the day…

“…the veriest radical that ever traced his genealogy back to the deck of the Mayflower, could not refuse us the simple privilege of paying honor to those who died defending the life, honor and happiness of the Southern Women.”

Mrs. Charles Williams, Ladies Memorial Association, March 12, 1866 (History of the Confederate Memorial Associations of the South)

To this day, in accordance with Georgia law stated above, Georgian state workers get this day off, although not all are of one mind. Writes one blogger:

“Who knew the honor of Southern women was at stake during the Civil War?

“As a black woman,  I don’t really subscribe to celebrating the Confederacy in any way, shape, or form.  So I thought about showing up for work in protest, but then… I decided instead that I am going to celebrate my FREEDOM and reflect on my ancestors who endured the Middle Passage, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Either way, the song rings true.

Here we find our noble dead
Their spirits soar’d to him above
Rest they now about his throne
For God is mercy, God is love
Then let us pray that we may live
As pure and good as they have been
That dying we may ask of Him
To ope the gate and let us in

— “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping”, 1867

Origin of Confederate Decoration Day – from the files of Alan Doyle


April 25

Last month the nation of Turkey remembered Victory of Canakkale, the World War I campaign that unified the Turkish spirt and brought together disparate elements that would form the Turkish nation.

But for every victor there’s the vanquished.

The Allies of World War I, including the French, British, Indian, Australian and New Zealanders, suffered a quarter million casualties in the Dardanelles (Canakkale) campaign. At the forefront of the battle, the soldiers of Australia and New Zealand took a disproportional brunt of the death and disease that characterized the fight.

ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC Day falls on the anniversary of the landing of the first Australian and New Zealand troops on April 25, 1915 on the Gallipoli Peninsula on Turkey’s Aegean coast. The assault was ill-planned and inadequately supplied.

The Turks entrenched themselves on the high ground pouring artillery and machine gun fire down upon the hapless Australian, New Zealand, Irish, French and British troops below.The battleground soon resembled that of the Western Front – both sides peering at each other from fortified trenches, forced to spill their precious blood in futile frontal attacks on well defended positions. — eyewitnesstohistory.com/gallipoli.htm

In the aftermath of Gallipoli a rift widened between the two southern hemisphere countries and the British Empire they had been proud to be a part of. Resentment grew against Allied commanders for the ill-conceived attack that led Australians and New Zealanders like lambs to the slaughter, and for the motives involved in using Australian and New Zealand troops to invade the far-off lands.

About 40 per cent of all Australian males aged between 18 and 45 voluntarily enlisted to serve in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF), that is about 417,000 men, of whom about 60 000 died in all campaigns and another 160,000 were wounded or maimed. — Geoffrey Partington, Gallipoli – the Facts Behind the Myths

[Still, Partington clarifies, “the British, French and Indian causalities were far greater than those of the Anzacs,” and “the British bore the brunt of the fighting – and the losses.”]

ANZAC Day is one of the most important holidays in both Australia and New Zealand, observed as Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day.

“On Anzac Day, we remember not only the original Anzacs who died on April 25, 1915, but every one of our service men and women who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, peacekeeping, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions,” — Australia Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston

For the record, Victory of Canakkale is no celebration in Turkey. It’s also known as “Martyrs’ Day”. The Turks suffered even more casualties than the Allies, around 300,000, in the brutal Dardanelles campaign alone. Today, the monuments and memorials of Gallipoli serve as a grim reminder that in war even the winners pay the price.

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney. Photo by Matthew Lammers


Armenian Genocide

April 24


“If a man is killed in Paris, it is a murder; fifty thousand throats are cut in the East and it is a question.” –Victor Hugo

Hugo died 30 years before the Armenian Genocide of 1915, but his quote could be applied to it—just multiply by thirty.

The Armenian Genocide has been called the first genocide of the twentieth century.

In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I, and immediately met crushing defeats against the Russians to the north. Blaming the losses on Armenian traitors, the government conscripted mass numbers of Armenian men, removed them of their weapons, and forced them into labor camps.

The reason April 24 is chosen to memorialize the dead, is because on April 24 over 200 of the most prominent Armenian leaders and intellectuals were rounded up and arrested. Up until then Armenian arrests and executions had not been widely reported.

The following month the government announced the Temporary Deportation Law which allowed for the temporary relocation of anyone deemed a threat to national security. In September the Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation expanded their authority: land, livestock, homes, and belongings of Armenians was to become government property.

The Armenians were taken to deserts, concentration camps, and other remote locations by the hundreds of thousands. Men, women, and children were either left to starve or executed.

The Turkish government today disputes the numbers of those killed, and the extent of government involvement, claiming for example, that many of the deaths were the result of poor farming weather that coincided with the relocation.

News of the atrocities were reported in the West at the time, and even the Ottoman’s allies during WWI, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, expressed concern over the mass deportations and executions of the Ottoman Empire’s Christians.

Years later a German statesman would ask, “Who after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

But he didn’t say it out of pity. It was Adolf Hitler, speaking to his generals, using it as a justification for the future invasion of Poland and the Jewish Holocaust.

April 24

Armenians Are Sent to Perish in Desert – Turks Accused of Plan to Exterminate Whole Population – People of Karahissar Massacred – NY Times – Aug. 18, 1915

Nothing Personal / Among the Deniers

Obama Avoids G-word, Brands Armenian Killings a “Great Atrocity”– 2009