Posted by: asprockett | April 27, 2013

Anzac Day

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I didn’t know ANZ stood for Australia and New Zealand until just a few days ago. It took me several weeks, but I did eventually learn that PNG was Papua New Guinea. (Australians are famous for shortening and abbreviating words. I have rarely heard anyone here actually utter the words “Papua New Guinea,” only the abbreviation P-N-G.) You’d think, as an intelligent and tuned-in individual I would have picked it up with ANZAC Day approaching. Nope. I just thought “Anzac” was a funny little word given to a national holiday. So it wasn’t until I was walking out of a lecture with a friend, discussing our Anzac Day plans, and he asked me, “Did you know ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps?” that I finally learned.

It was clearly time to look into this important national holiday in Australia. Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major World War I action seen by the joint Australian and New Zealand forces. This is especially important considering that Australia became a federal commonwealth in only 1901. The ANZACs were part of a joint effort to capture the Gallipoli (pronounced Gal-ip-o-lee) peninsula in present day Turkey, with the ultimate goal of capturing Constantinople (present day Istanbul), a German ally.

The ANZAC forces landed on Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 against strong resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. The campaign lasted for more than 8 months, eventually ending in a stalemate. In all, over 11,000 ANZAC soldiers were killed during those fierce 8 months. Anzac Day is now celebrated to remember and honor those soldiers who died during the war. The “ANZAC legend” has had a profound impact on the two countries and the day has grown into a celebration of all soldiers who have served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping missions.

The day is celebrated with a 4:30 am dawn ceremony to remember the fallen, held in cities across Australia and New Zealand, and even in Gallipoli, to mark the start of the invasion. Sydney further celebrates with a 3 and a half hour looping parade of military units through the Central Business District. Many Australians then go on to BBQs and time with family and friends, similar to how the United States celebrates Memorial Day.

The ANZAC Day parade in Sydney

The ANZAC Day parade in Sydney

To honor the day, Dan and I volunteered at a Darling Harbour Rotary BBQ held along the parade route. In all, the Darlings raised nearly $2,500 to support the homeless in Sydney.

Andrea and Dan helping out at the ANZAC Day Rotary Fundraiser.

Andrea and Dan helping out at the ANZAC Day Rotary Fundraiser.

We then headed out for a true Anzac Day BBQ with friends, including kangaroo sausages and Anzac Day biscuits. Anzac biscuits are an eggless soft cookie that family in Australia could send to their soldiers without fear of the ration going bad.

I would like to especially thank Maddie for making the delicious and well-hyped biscuits and hosting our first holiday in Australia. The cookies more than lived up to their reputation and are sure to make future appearances at celebrations…such as this year’s Christmas.

Maddie's ANZAC Day biscuits (cookies) were delicious!

Maddie’s ANZAC Day biscuits (cookies) were delicious!

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