Today is Anzac Day. My American friends may be asking, “What the heck is Anzac Day?” It is perhaps Australia’s most important national occasion.
Commemorated on April 25, Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli (in modern day Turkey) during World War I. The Allies suffered heavy casualties and the military campaign to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war failed, but the actions of the troops left a powerful legacy that has become an important part of the national identities of both Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, Anzac Day now more broadly commemorates all the men and women who have served and died in military service.
We’ve been up since shortly after dawn on this cold and rainy day. Australians commemorate Anzac Day with a service at dawn – the time of the original landing in Galipoli. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women march through the city, and formal ceremonies are also held at war memorials throughout the country. Poppies, a symbol of remembrance, are laid down.
In the afternoon, another important tradition takes place – the footy match between Collingwood and Essendon, which we are enjoying right now (go Pies)! I have no idea why these two teams go at it every year on Anzac Day, but it is a big deal. The Anzac Day game is the biggest match in the AFL outside the Grand Final. The Anzac Medal is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the Anzac spirit – skill, courage, self-sacrifice, teamwork, and fair play.
So, as I enjoy a sweet Strongbow cider and Anzac biscuits, which tastes like an oatmeal-coconut cookie, I salute Australia’s servicemen and women, our allies in the war then and now. May we always honor their sacrifice and memory.
About the photo: By Fir0002/Flagstaffotos under the CC-BY-NC.