ANZAC Day is an important day for Australians and New Zealanders, wherever they are in the world. Today marks the landing at Gallipoli in 1915 and is recognised around the world as ANZAC Day – Australia New Zealand Army Corps.
We commemorate ANZAC Day on 25 April each year with ceremonies, marches, laying of wreaths, special prayers and tributes. Most importantly of all, we stop to thank those who have fought to save our country. It is always a Public Holiday. You can read more about ANZAC Day from the Australian War Memorial site. ANZAC biscuits are also very popular.
It is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of Anzac, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity
The relevance of poppies:
The Flanders poppy has long been a part of Remembrance Day, the ritual that marks the Armistice of 11 November 1918, and is also increasingly being used as part of Anzac Day observances. During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. The sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the poem In Flanders fields. Source
2017 marked the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign and the Battle of Milne Bay, which formed part of the New Guinea campaign in the Second World War.
Bomana War Cemetery is the largest war cemetery in the Pacific with close to 4000 graves, mostly Australian and is a very moving place to visit. I was lucky enough to walk the Kokoda Track in 2008 with my husband and others and we commemorated ANZAC Day in a very moving service at Isurava.
In 2017, my husband had just returned from another trek over Kokoda with 5 leaders and 12 school students. This was his 7th trek! Their group held their own ANZAC Day service along the track and visited Bomana cemetery before leaving for home. Each year, those of the group who are in town, regather and join many locals and returned soldiers in our little town of Tumbarumba, for the Dawn Service and the March later in the morning. There’s always a buzz and the sharing of amazing experiences.
ANZAC Day always has an extra special meaning for our family. My very talented sister Sharon, wrote this story many years ago. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing it here. It’s always on my mind on Anzac Day as we remember our grandfather.
A very special grandfather (Pop), Fred Humphries
Pop never marched on Anzac Day. He had no ‘digger’ mates to reminisce with. His was the Second World War and he was British. Anzac Day never had the relevance for him that it did for others, but he didn’t like to speak of the war much anyway. Pop’s war was over, not to be dragged out and fought every year.
Pop was in transport during the war and continued in that area afterward. He won some medals but always kept them locked away. Pop served in Italy for a time, but we never heard any war stories from him.
Pop came to Australia in the mid 50’s with his wife and three children. He found work and moved his family into a place of their own. He joined the RSL club and went there occasionally for a quiet drink and a game on the pokies, but Pop never marched on Anzac Day.
He watched his children grow and find Australian partners and start Australian families. How proud he was watching his Aussie grandchildren march, but Pop never marched on Anzac day.
Pop, always thin and towering over everyone else, his neatly trimmed moustache as British as his reserve, had a fine sense of humour. He loved a laugh with friends, but Pop never marched on Anzac Day.
Cancer invaded Pop’s body as surely as Germany invaded Poland, and for four years he fought – and lived a relatively normal life. He had his garden to keep him occupied, which he tended lovingly. He enjoyed visits from his children, grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. He always welcomed his family into his heart and home. His medals stayed locked away – as securely as his memories and experiences of the war. Pop never marched on Anzac day.
Pop’s battle with cancer ended in his 74th year in 1991. Pop died, in peace, on Anzac Day.
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.
Lest we forget!
PS: My daughter wrote a post about ANZAC Day too, she lives in the UK and always feels nostalgic on these special Aussie days – ANZAC Day & the Kokoda Track
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