Those who are not in the know, visitors perhaps or newcomers Down Under, may irreverently wonder why there is so much fuss about ANZAC Day throughout Australia. ANZAC Day, after all, commemorates what was expected to be a blitzkrieg at Gallipoli but which turned out to be a draw resulting to loss of many Australian lives. To understand the Australian sentiment about the ANZAC, or the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, it should be recalled that when the First World War broke out, Australia then was, as a country, still in its infancy. It was keen to prove its nationhood to the community of nations, and it responded to the Allied call with a contingent known as the ANZAC. The plan was to free Gallipoli in one swift strike, but they were met with unexpected resistance and the campaign failed. Many were killed. The lives lost in Gallipoli will go down in history as the biggest death toll for Australia in any conflict it has been involved with to date.
A Shrine Guard wearing the unifrom of the Light Horse. Photo from Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne.
Since then, the landing at Gallipoli has been commemorated in Australia as ANZAC Day. Today, 99 years later, Australia remembers and will never forget. Australia will never forget the bravery of their fathers, brothers, sons, nephews, neighbors and friends who went to battle, came to the aid of friends in need, and stood their ground against tyranny, so that others may enjoy life in peace and freedom. ANZAC Day celebrates the courage of the ANZAC, the resilience of the Australian nation, and the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform who have since then continued to uphold the ideals of the Australian people.
To make ANZAC Day more meaningful, here's a dozen things you can do on ANZAC Day and beyond:
1. Participate in the Dawn Service. The Dawn Service is happening simultaneously in major Australian cities, and in Melbourne the dawn service will be held at forecourt of the Shrine of Remembrance on 25 April 2014. Assembly time is 4:30am, and service will begin at 6:00am. Click here for more about the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Melbourne.
3. Help out at your local RSL branch. Pledge a little of your time to help make the lives of our veterans and their dependants better through the welfare and community support activities of the Retired Services Leagure (RSL). Click here for details on how to volunteer at the RSL.
4. Support our troops in active duty, particularly those deployed in conflicts overseas. Send an email to the troops at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send them a postcard. Postcards can be sent to:
Messages to the Troops
Media Section 39 Personnel Support Battalion Building 217
Randwick Barracks NSW 2031
Join millions of Australians commemorate ANZAC Day. Photo from Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne.
7. Bake ANZAC biscuits and share them with family and friends. Keep the ANZAC spirit alive in your local community. Click here for the secret recipe from a WeekendNotes writer who has been so good to share it with us.
8. Plant poppies, preferably with your family and children. Share with them the tradition so we do not forget. Why poppies, you may wonder? During the First World War, a powerful symbolism was attached to the poppies. Red poppies were among the first plants to bloom in the battlefields of France and Belgium, and soldiers take this to remind them of the blood of their fallen comrades that soaked the fields. Through the years, poppies have become part of the symbols of ANZAC. Read more by clicking here.
School children celebrate ANZAC Day at the Shrine. Photo from the Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne, by Belinda Mepham.
9. Watch the ANZAC Day match. It is a fitting tribute that sports heroes play their best on the day we commemorate the real heroes of the nation. This ANZAC Day 2014, Melbourne Storm play against New Zealand Warriors at the AAMI Park in Melbourne. Tickets are available now, click here for more details. Collingwood also takes on Essendon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Yarra Park, Jolimont on ANZAC Day. Click here for more information on the AFL ANZAC Day game.
10. Watch Gallipoli, an Australian classic. It is a 1981 film which tells of the story two Australian sprinters who had to face the brutal realities of war when they were sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during the First World War. Starring the Aussie Hollywood star Mel Gibson. Click here for details about the movie.
11. Spend the day with family, but see to it that as one, the family is able to express collective gratitude for the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform so we may enjoy the lifestyle that we have.
12. Recite the Ode. The Ode is the fourth stanza of the poem For the Fallen by English poet and writer Laurence Binyon. No matter how and where you commemorate ANZAC, a quiet reflection on the sacrifices of the men and women in service, coupled with a recitation of the Ode, will make your ANZAC Day a meaningful one. Click here to learn about the tradition if you are not quite familiar with it.
ANZAC Day celebrates the courage, bravery, and sacrifices of the men and women in service. Photo from the Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne, by John Brown Photography.
i can'r believe all the fuss that's made for Anzac Day in Australia it gets worse every year
How many fallen soldiers would really ejnjoy what is happening over them - I think very few. True heroes would hate it