OBSERVING ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Day on April 25 is as much a part of the nation’s culture as owning a pair of thongs and indulging in the amber liquid, ever so occasionally.
The date specifically commemorates the fateful landing of WWI Australian and New Zealand soldiers on a lonely piece of Turkish coastline – the shores of Gallipoli – where they were to face insurmountable odds during the early morning darkness.
In Sydney, ANZAC Day begins with the Dawn Service, a solemn ceremony held in Martin Place around 4am, and is followed around 9am by the traditional parade of veterans from across all international conflicts (and more than a few marching bands and fervent bagpipers.)
The parade winds its way through the city’s centre to the War Memorial in Hyde Park for another service, in which the poem The Ode is read as a prelude to a minute’s silence.
The Australian Army’s website states: “The Ode comes from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in the Winnowing Fan; Poems of the Great War in 1914. The verse, which became the League Ode, was already used in association with commemoration services in Australia in 1921.
“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.