On April 25 this year in towns and communities all over Australia, millions of Australian residents traditionally rouse themselves from their slumber at the crack of dawn to honour Australians who lost their lives in military operations.
For those new to our country, or those unfamiliar with Australian history, this is around the time when the Anzacs approached the Gallipoli peninsula, and its just one of the ways we honour the lives of those who have served and continue to serve our country.
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
On 25 April 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied mission to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Ottoman, Turkey in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies.
It was around 4.30am when Anzac soldiers approached the peninsula, marking this the start of the Gallipoli Campaign to defeat the Ottoman Empire, and an ally of Germany.
The Gallipoli Campaign was a military defeat. In late December, the Anzacs were evacuated from the peninsula and by 20 January 1916, all Allied troops had been withdrawn.
The battles fought on Gallipoli established the military reputation of the original Anzacs and the pride of the Anzac soldiers continues to this day.
Anzac Day commemorations
This year, again due to COVID-19 restrictions in some areas of Australia, we may need alternate ways to honour our service men and women. But we will keep the Anzac spirit alive.
According to the Australian Army History Unit (AAHU), Anzac Day remembrance takes two forms;
- Commemorative services held at dawn across the nation – the time of the original landing in Gallipoli.
- Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women meet to take part in marches through the major cities and in many smaller centres.
Commemorative ceremonies are more formal and traditionally held at war memorials around the country.
An Anzac Day ceremony typically includes an introduction, a hymn and prayer, laying of wreaths, a recitation, and a piper playing the Last Post.
In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call to signify the end of the day’s activities. It’s also sounded at military funerals to indicate the soldier has gone to rest and at commemorative services such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.
After the Last Post, a period of silence is observed followed by the national anthem. Families often place red poppies beside the names of relatives on the Memorial’s Roll of Honour.
Honouring the Anzac spirit
Abiding by COVID-19 restrictions, the Anzac spirit can be honoured in many ways in lieu of any cancelled traditional commemorations and marches across Australia and overseas.
From the Australian War Memorial, the Anzac Day service will broadcast live, starting with pre-service program from 4.30am then national service at 5.30am. Check your local TV guides for more details.
One of the most popular past-times involves heading to the nearest pub or club to join mates and strangers alike in a game of Two-Up.
Played for money, the game involves a designated “spinner” throwing two coins or pennies into the air, after which players bet on the sides in which the coins will fall, in part to mark a shared experience with Diggers through the ages.
For me personally, Anzac Day is a momentous day and one very dear to my heart. My son, my first child, was born on Anzac Day morning. I treasure the fact he entered the world on such a significant day and he takes immense pride in his birth date.