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Sunday, April 26, 2009

ANZAC Day

Anzac Day is a national holiday celebrated in Australia and New Zealand. It commemorates the first major action fought by Australia and New Zealand during the First World War. It stands for "Australian and New Zealand Army Corp" and the soldiers were known as "Anzacs". On April 25, the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey was meant to open the Black Sea passage for the Allies but was a major disaster. They were met with high resistance causing the battle to last 8 months. In that time 8,000 Australians and 2,700 New Zealanders were killed.
We have often commented on how little patriotism we see here in New Zealand so we were startled with the sudden patriotism around us. War songs being sung; documentaries on TV; announcements in the paper and assemblies at the schools.
We attended the local ANZAC Day memorial service at the local War Memorial Hall. As we were walking in 2 WWI era planes few over, then the retired soldiers walked in. It felt a little awkward as I didn't know what the protocol was. When do you stand and when do you sit? Do join in singing or remain quiet. How do you dress and where did everyone get the paper poppies they were wearing? (The poppies are a symbol of Flader's field where the soldiers are buried under crosses - row on row.)
The service began with singing "God Save the Queen". The local priest led the service with prayer, scripture reading and singing of the 23rd Psalm. The mayor, wearing a traditional Maori feather cape, gave an address. The local Lions club sang war time songs with the older generation joining right in! A military representative from Australia gave a speech on the brotherhood of the two countries. A New Zealand Air Force commander gave a speech as well. When all the address and speeches were over we went outside to a memorial.
The cadets stood in respect, the priest and mayor were at the flag pole and the retired military personnel stood in front of the fire guard. The flag was lowered and then raised again during a bugle call. Wreaths were laid on the memorial and a 21 gun salute was fired. Following the service people placed white crosses around the memorial.
I appreciated the opportunity to look into the heart of a nation and see what it holds dear. The pride of fighting in a world war and the sorrow for the lost citizens.

No worries - Kris

1 comment:

  1. Poppies is definitely the symbol of WWI. They grow wild in France, especially in the eastern section where most of the graves are.

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