Anzac Day

Anzac Day is one of the most important commemorative days in Australia. Held on the 25th April every year, Anzac Day commemorates the day in 1915 when Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed in Gallipoli, Turkey during World War I.

On that fateful day Australian and New Zealand Soldiers landed in, what is now called Anzac Cove, to be faced with shelling and enemy fire from a large, well-prepared and fierce Turkish force. With only sea behind them, progressing forward was near impossible for the Anzacs.

During the 8 month campaign 8,700 Australians lost their lives along with 2,721 New Zealanders. In proportion to both nation's populations at the time this was a both devasting and monumental loss. While the troops were eventually forced to withdraw, the Gallipoli battle was the birthplace of the Anzac spirit. This spirit is synonymous with bravery, ingenuity and mateship - traits exhibited by the Australian and New Zealand troops during the battle.

The first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing was held on 25th April 1916. It was on this day that the acting Australian Prime Minister officially declared the date Anzac Day. By the 1920's all the Australian states had appointed Anzac Day as a public holiday and ceremonies were being held nationwide. As ceremonies continued through the 1940's World War II veterans also attended the parades. Recently, returned servicemen and women from battles across the globe have been remembered and represented in the ceremonies.

Every year, Anzac Day is commemorated with Dawn Services across Australia, New Zealand and at the landing in Gallipoli, Turkey. The significance of the Dawn Service and parade has to do with an operational practice still in place in the defence force today. Soldiers were made to rise in the half-hour before dawn so they were positioned with their weapons at the very first light - which was the favoured time for attack. This routine is known as 'Stand-to' and was repeated at sunset.

The first Dawn Service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927. Initially Dawn Services were restricted to War Veterans only, allowing soldiers a time to reflect with their fellow returned servicemen. However, in recent times families and young people alike have been encouraged to participate in these poignant events.

Anzac ceremonies have become more elaborate as the years pass, with huge turnouts at War Memorials, Cenotaphs and Remembrance Shrines nationwide. Generally, an Anzac ceremony includes a speech from a local dignitary or serviceman or woman; laying of a wreath; a hymn and reading of the Ode; playing of 'The Last Post,' followed by a minute's silence and then 'The Rouse.'

Attending an Anzac Ceremony in your local area is both a valuable experience and a memorable way to pay respect to the thousands of soldiers who fought for the freedom of this great nation.

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