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What's the Best Way to Commemorate Anzac Day?

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by Geraldine Massey (subscribe)
I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published April 3rd 2013
Anzac Day, recognised as one of Australia's most important national days, has been commemorated continuously in Australia since 1916 through dawn services, parades and RSL get-togethers with mates and beer. In recent years its popularity with Australians of all ages and origins has increased. For an examination of its place in modern Australia see this article by Michaelie Clark.

Anzac, the landing 1915 by George Lambert. Image wikipedia.org courtesy of the Collection Database of the Australian War Memorial

Australians are enthusiastic about the importance of recognising and being thankful for the sacrifices of all those who have defended Australia and its interests, but what's the best way to commemorate Anzac Day? I've listed some traditional and more recent methods below, but as always we're interested in hearing your suggestions. How will you be marking Anzac Day?

Dawn Services and Anzac Day Parades
Dawn services, wreath laying ceremonies and Anzac Day Parades are held in all cities all around Australia. You can find information about what's on in all major cities through your local RSL branch or ex-service organisation or by searching on the VB Raise A Glass website here..

Raise a Glass
The VB Raise a Glass Appeal has raised almost $4 million for the welfare programs of the RSL and Legacy since its inception in 2009. Organisers encourage people to raise a glass of your favourite tipple for our service men and women past and present and to donate to the appeal here.


Two-Up
While no-one is exactly sure of the origins of Australia's national gambling game it is certain that it was played by Australian soldiers during World War 1 and was a highly popular illegal betting activity until the 1950's. Because of its association with Diggers it's been traditionally played on Anzac Day, usually with a blind eye being turned to the illegality. The NSW Gambling (Two-Up) Act 1998 made it legal to play two-up on Anzac Day.

All you'll need is a flat piece of wood (the kip) and two pennies (ideally sized and weighted to spin when tossed) to place on it. Bets are placed on the possible outcomes of each toss - Heads (two heads facing up), Tails (two tails facing up) or Odds (one heads up, one tails up). Come in Spinner! If you're feeling particularly patriotic you could donate your winnings to the Raise a Glass Appeal.

Anzac biscuits
There's just something about the crunch and oaty goodness of a fair dinkum Anzac biscuit. Get right into the spirit and make your own with this recipe supplied by Vanessa De Largie.

Anzac Day Footy
I abhor the trend of modern sports commentators who call our sports men and women heroes for successfully doing what after all is merely their job. Lets save that for the real heroes. But bringing the whole Anzac aura to a major sporting event really adds to the spectacle. The first annual AFL Anzac Day clash between traditional rivals Essendon and Collingwood was conceived by then Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy and played in 1995 at the MCG and has been played every year since then. A special commemorative ceremony is held before the match and the Anzac medal awarded to the best player. The match attracts the second biggest crowd each season, behind only the Grand Final. The match kicks off at 2.40pm.

Australian Light Horsemen. Image from wikipedia.org courtesy of the Collection Database of the Australian War Memorial

Watch Gallipoli
A huge critical and commercial success for Australian director Peter Weir and featuring Mel Gibson's breakout performance, Gallipoli tells the story of two idealistic young soldiers and their experiences at Gallipoli. It remains an Australian classic.

The Ode
Whatever way you choose to commemorate Anzac Day it should surely include a recitation of the simple but poignant The Ode, the fourth stanza of Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen":

"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
."

Let's hope Australians continue to do so.
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