ANZAC Day: Australians and New Zealanders Pause to Remember the Fallen

Participants march during the Anzac Day parade in Sydney on April 25, 2019. - Anzac Day marks the April 25, 1915 landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli on the Turkish peninsula in an ill-fated campaign against the German-backed Ottoman forces. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP) (Photo …
SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty

Australians and New Zealanders paused to remember the fallen of all wars today in commemorating a solemn ANZAC Day tradition.

Anzac Day honours the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) on the Gallipoli peninsula on April 25, 1915, at the start of an eight-month campaign against the Ottoman Empire in which 8,700 Australians and nearly 2,800 New Zealanders died.

The battle of Gallipoli, in modern-day Turkey, is generally seen as a devastating military failure for the Allied powers against the German-backed Ottoman forces, who managed to foil attempts to break through towards Constantinople and in doing so open up a new front.

Such was the extent of the loss it cost its architect and chief backer Winston Churchill his job and cast him into the political wilderness.

Now synonymous with valour, ANZAC Day is a public holiday in both Australia and New Zealand, also honouring veterans from other conflicts, including South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. Peacekeepers who served on Australian and New Zealand operations in East Timor, Solomon Islands and the Golan Heights are also remembered.

Held across Australia, the Anzac dawn service has its origins in a military practice known as “stand-to”, in which soldiers are woken before dawn to avoid the vulnerability that comes with the early light, which is notorious for playing tricks on the eyes.

Large cities and small villages, country towns and outback settlements, all pause and come together as one to salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of fighting for freedom.

The dawn service is always followed by a combined march of former personnel and current enlisted soldiers, sailors and airmen, which gives local populations the chance to say “thank you” for their service.

Hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders also travel to Gallipoli each year to attend a dawn commemoration at ANZAC Cove, where the troops landed.

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