ANZAC Day is the commemoration in which we remember the thousands of soldiers who fought in the battles of Gallipoli. 87,000 Turks, and 44,000 men from France and the British Empire (including 8500 Australians and 2779 New Zealanders) lost their lives in the fight to secure the Dardanelles for Allied forces. Although at the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by Turkey, this represented the biggest Australasian armed force battle and is remembered with feelings of hope and achievement.
How we remember them:
Every year on the anniversary of the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Core) landing on Gallipoli, people across the world remember them. In New Zealand, this includes a dawn service and a later more public service, reminiscent of a military funeral, where key leaders of our nations give speeches thanking and remembering the efforts of the Turkish soldiers and the ANZAC soldiers.
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.
– Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen
There is also a parade, where returned service members march with veterans and ex-service members to the local war memorials, for the laying of wreaths and more speeches. Usually afterwards, service members will pop down to the RSA for a drink and telling of stories. There are now no veterans left from the battles of Gallipoli, and the numbers of veterans from the second world war are slowly decreasing. But every year, the amount of young persons present at the services and parade increases, some of them bearing medals from their grandparents and great-grandparents, to respect and honor the sacrifices that their families made.
What is the red poppy?
The most recognised symbol of war remembrance is the red poppy. The poppy is worn all over the world. It was adopted as a symbol after Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae mentioned them growing on the graves of fallen soldiers in his poem ‘In Flanders Field’. In the early days, silk poppies were made by the French Childrens league and sold. The funds were put to use in the war-ravaged areas of Northern France, and to assist unemployed returned soldiers and their families.
I am honored to belong to a family that served in the armed and air forces of New Zealand. Many of the soldiers who died at Gallipoli have no known graves, and so their names have gradually been lost over time. But in the spirit of patriotism, of love, and of friendship, we celebrate the sacrifices of these soldiers every year by continuing peacemaking efforts across the globe. Over 30,000 people were present at the War Memorial Museum address in Auckland today, and if there is one thing that we can take away from the battle of Gallipoli, it’s that a small force can make a difference that resonates throughout all of history.
To any soldiers, anywhere in the world, thank you for your service, and your sacrifice.
Lest we forget.