Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Heartbreaking stories coming out of the bombing in Bali. Like this one. Four bridesmaids dead. For more information, go to Instapundit or Tim Blair - especially Tim Blair. He'll link you to dozens of other sources.
This summer while traveling in Turkey, I decided to visit Gallipoli. It was rather a spur of the moment decision and I didn't know all that much about its history, other than what I read in my guidebook. Most tourists who visit the battlefields spend the night in Canakkale prior to the tour, as I did. Relatively few Americans visit; most of the people in my group were from New Zealand or Australia. The hostels all show the film Gallipoli nightly; mine also showed an Australian television documentary about the war. As we sat watching the documentary, I suddenly realized that a middle-aged woman, sitting one or two rows ahead of me, either an Australian or a New Zealander, was weeping.
Oh, my God, I thought. What have I gotten myself into?
Next day came the tour. It was incredibly comprehensive and covered all the major battlefields. More than the details of the fighting, though, was the understanding I got that day of how important this battle was to the Australians and New Zealanders who fought there. (Also to the Turks, of course, I'm not trying to leave them out, but this post is really about Australia today. I'll talk more about Turkey some other time.) One older woman in my group, an Australian, was looking for her uncle who was buried there... we found him at the Lone Pine Memorial. I thought the people in my group were terrific - I had really never met many Australians or New Zealanders before. These people are fun, gregarious, they love to travel and they love to have a good time.
Having fun is not a crime, dammit. That's why these people died. They were dancing, drinking, and their hair wasn't covered up and that made them criminals in the eyes of the radicals who killed them.
I get the impression that Bali is sort of to Australia as Hawaii is to the mainland US in terms of its importance as a vacation and honeymoon destination. Imagine if someone had pulled this in Honolulu.
Anyway. My thoughts and prayers are with the Australians today, and I hope yours are too.