What is Anzac Day?
To people who aren’t from Australia or New Zealand, Anzac Day might not mean a great deal. The holiday, commemorating the brutal and bloody allied assault on Gallipoli (then a part of the Ottoman Empire) during World War I, is held every year on April 25th.
The assault, which cost 120,000 lives between the two factions, was seen as a defining moment in both Australian and New Zealand history. After World War II, Anzac Day became a day to commemorate all soldiers who have died in armed conflicts, rather than just those who served in the bloody landing on that lonely stretch of Turkish beach.
How is it Commemorated?
Anzac Day is commemorated around Australia, New Zealand, and the world – and typically starts with a Dawn Service. As the landing on Gallipoli took place at dawn, so too does the day begin at dawn for both returned servicemen and those who want to honour the legacy of the falling.
Services typically involved two minutes silence – started with a lone bugler playing the Last Post and finishing with the same bugler playing Reveille. The silence juxtaposed with the hauntingly lonely sounds of the bugler make for an emotionally loaded moment, especially given the context of what is being commemorated.
Larger ceremonies, usually held in capital cities and at prominent war memorials, also include the Recitation. I’ve been honoured to have been asked to provide the Recitation here in Nanjing for the last two years.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Want to Know More?
Worldcare have been kind enough to provide this informative infographic that highlights some of the key facts and figures surrounding the holiday.
Bucket List Item #30: Spend Anzac Day in Gallipoli
A travel dream that I know I share with a great many patriotic Australians is to someday attend the Dawn Service that takes place in Gallipoli, Turkey each year.
Taking place at the Anzac Commemorative Site on the northern beach of Gallipoli, the service is especially moving as it takes place so close to Anzac Cove, where these brave men lost their lives in service of Queen and Country.
The opportunity to hear the haunting bugling and observe the long silence that exists between both tunes on ground that to many Australians would be considered hallowed is one I sorely wish to have someday, and the chance to later explore Anzac Cove (named after the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps by the Turkish government in 1985) is particularly intriguing to me.
Does your own home country have a memorial day that you would like to commemorate at a place of great significance to your nation’s history? Or have you been lucky enough to experience this already yourself?