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Seven Episodes from our
Turkey Mission and Trip
Episode 1
by Joseph Patrick Meissner


This was my second trip to Turkey, a country and people I very much admire and appreciate. Of course, on my second trip I learn how much I have not learned about Istanbul and Ephesus and Mary's place and Ottoman history.

It is impossible to relate all that happened on this trip. So I have picked out seven specific episodes and hope these may be thought-provoking as well as encourage you to plan a trip to Turkey, the home of Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet.

Epsiode 1

Stop the bus!

Stop the bus!

Who is calling out? I ask myself.

It is Phyllis.

Why? somebody painfully inquires out-loud since we are already a little late in getting to our Gallipoli battle sites. After all, the latter was the whole purpose of this trip, and not some flower worshipping jaunt.

I want to get some photos of the flowers, Phyllis defends herself. In front of us, are acres and acres of beautiful small sunflowers, starting on the right and climbing up the steep Achi Tepe Ridge. In 1915, after Istanbul had become unreachable and even the town of Gallipoli was beyond their grasp, this ridge had become the main objective for the Allied forces whose Turkish opponents refused to quit.

It is this nine month long battle at Gallipoli exactly one hundred years ago during World War I in 1915 that has inspired our trip. Five months ago we began our planning. Here we are driving our van through these blood-soaked valleys and ridges, looking for any signs of the century old struggle. Among the allies were soldiers of English, Scottish, Irish, New Zealander, Australian, Senghelese, Maori, French, and some other backgrounds. Casualties for both sides totaled over half a million.

And now we must stop our van so one of our women members can take photos of the vast fields of golden yellow sunflowers with their rich brown centers?

Phyllis climbs down the van steps and we of course all obediently follow her. Of course, I take some photos of the rich yellow flowers bursting with life. A song plays and replays in my brain some lyrics from Peter, Paul, and Mary that touch all of us veterans.

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?

Where have all the flowers gone?

The lyrics become more pointed:

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago?

Where have all the soldiers gone?

Gone to graveyards, everyone.

Oh, when will they ever learn?

Oh, when will they ever learn?

What happened to all those soldiers here at Gallipoli? What about their final resting places?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?

Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?

Where have all the graveyards gone?

Gone to flowers, everyone.

Oh, when will they ever learn?

Oh, when will they ever learn?

Thank you, Phyllis, for stopping our bus.


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