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Introduction to the stories

Bruce Scates introduces four stories exploring monuments and mourning.
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BRUCE SCATES: Welcome back to “The 100 Stories.” We’re standing on the first summit of the windswept Sari Bair range. Over on my right there is Hill 971, and this is Conk Bayiri– “Chunuk Bair,” the Allies called it. And this, this was the objective on the first day of the landing, and this was still the objective when they launched the ill-fated August offensive months and months later. Because whoever held these windswept heights also held Gallipoli. So in August 1915, the New Zealanders hold this ground. And in a sense, they hold it still. Many of those New Zealand forces are buried here in the cemetery just below us.
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Their remains were recovered at the end of the war, and they were carried forward across the battlefield, to a place– a place where you can just glimpse the Dardanelles. Moving those remains made a powerful political statement. In death, these men did what they couldn’t do in life– they breached the Turkish line and they looked out on The Narrows, that strategic waterway that leads all the way to Constantinople, the ultimate prize of the Gallipoli campaign. Chunuk Bair was also the site chosen for the New Zealand National Memorial. It was the first monument the Allies raised on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and it was raised here in 1925. And again– again, there was nothing accidental about where that monument was positioned.
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Samuel Hurst Seager built this monument where it could be seen– seen from the ridges criss-crossing Anzac, and from ships way, way out to sea And again– again, that’s making a very powerful political statement. The landscape that seemed to swallow five Allied armies has finally been overcome.
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Chunuk Bair was contested ground in 1915, and it’s contested ground still. In 1992, the Turks raised this gigantic memorial to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic. It was Ataturk who led the Ottoman forces here in August, 1915. He was the man who vowed to drive the Anzac forces into the sea. And here he is now, staring down the New Zealand National Memorial. He’s reminding every visitor to this site who really won this phase of the campaign.
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This week’s module is called “Monuments and Mourning.” And this segment will consider the meanings embodied in memorials, back then, and I think, still today. Today, we mostly read these structures as political messages, don’t we? But they also carried, at the very moment of their making, a deeply personal content as conduits of loss. Let’s begin then with Mrs. Irwin’s story.

Watch Bruce Scates introduce the four stories from Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli in Turkey.

After you’ve watched the stories, we’ll be asking you to reflect and share your thoughts on how each story explores aspects of mourning and how we commemorate those lost in war.

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World War 1: A History in 100 Stories

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