Today, April 25, is Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia and it is a public holiday in both countries. It is a day of remembrance that commemorates all Australian's and New Zealander's who served and gave their lives in all wars, conflicts and peace keeping operations as well as the contribution and suffering of all those who have served. I suppose it is comparable to Veterans Day in the US and Remembrance Day in Canada and the UK.
I would like to give a little background to the day and its signifigance to New Zealanders and Australians.
ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps whose soldiers were collectively known as Anzacs. Anzac Day originated to honour the Anzacs who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War 1.
In 1915 the Anzacs were part of an allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Penisula in accordance with a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) - who were supporting Germany.
The Anzacs encountered fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army and the campaign lasted 8 months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and hardships. Casualties included 8,709 from Australia and and 2,721 from New Zealand. The landing at Gallipoli had a profound affect on Australians and New Zealanders and April 25 became a day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who died. The day was officially named Anzac Day in 1916.
In Turkey, the name Anzac Cove commemorates the place where the Anzacs landed and was officially recognised by the Turkish Government on Anzac Day 1985. Commemorations are held there every year.
With the advent of the second world war Anzac Day became a day on which to commemorate the lives of Australians and New Zealanders who lost their lives in that war also. Today, we commemorate all those who gave their lives and all those who served in all military operations in which Australia and New Zealand have been involved in since.
In both countries dawn services are held on Anzac Day with symbolic links to the dawn landing at Gallipoli.
Today, Roz and I are thankful for those who have served and those who continue to serve in our military forces so that we may be safe and protected.
Today, we remember those who gave their lives in service.
Lest we forget