The significance of Anzac Day

Image: Reuters

Melbourne, Australia:

Being a multicultural paper, much of our audience is the broader community within Australia and abroad. For thousands of us, we are very glad to call Australia our home, and we celebrate its national holidays in great spirit- take for instance the Anzac Day.

Its celebration perhaps also calls for a deeper understanding of the significance of the day. Here, we will try to briefly explain the day to our readers:

Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casaulties for Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I.

First Anzac Day parade in Sydney, along Macquarie Street, 25 April 1916. Photo attributed to George Bell. Source: Century of Pictures, Penguin Books, 2008, extracted from Wikimedia Commons

Anzac Day commemorates the sacrifice of Australian and New Zealand military personnel who died during war. Anzac Day originally commemorated the Australian and New Zealand forces that landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey on 25 April 1915 during the First World War. They were part of the allied mission to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), which was the capital of one of Germany’s major allies, the Ottoman Empire. 

Gallipoli was expected to be a quick military campaign, however it became a long battle that was characterised by mass casualties on both sides. The bravery of both the Australian and New Zealand forces during this campaign left a profound legacy that is still commemorated to this day.   

Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand; however, the ceremonies and their meanings have changed significantly since 1915.

One of the most popular ways to celebrate Anzac Day is waking up early to attend a dawn service in your local suburb, city or town. These memorial services are held at dawn to commemorate the time at which Australian and New Zealand forces originally landed at Gallipoli. They then finish with marches that feature current servicemen and servicewomen, former soldiers and their relatives. 

This year, Australians mark 106th anniversary of Anzac Day. Thousands of people gathered across New Zealand and Australia on Sunday to honour military personnel on Anzac Day, a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to commemorate privately in driveways and on balconies.

Read Also: Gurkhas and Anzacs in the Gallipoli Campaign