On the 25th of April, I went to Downtown Newcastle to attend the Anzac Day march and commemoration service. Anzac Day, which is observed every 25th of April in Australia and New Zealand, is a national day of remembrance that commemorates all the Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. Anzac is an acronym that stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day is held on this date because it marks the anniversary of the first major military engagement fought by Australian and New Zealand forces in World War One. On this date in 1915, Australian and New Zealand forces landed in Gallipoli peninsula with the objective of capturing it from Ottoman forces. This would allow the allied forces to pass through the Dardanelles and capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the Ottoman capital. This would knock Ottoman Turkey, an ally of Germany, out of the war. The Anzac forces met heavy resistance from the Ottoman forces and the campaign to take Gallipoli turned into a stalemate that lasted for eight months. At the end of 1915, the allied forces, of which the Anzac forces were a part of, evacuated the peninsula. Both the Anzac and Ottoman forces suffered heavy casualties. Although the Gallipoli campaign was unsuccessful, the brave and heroic actions of Anzac forces during the campaign became forever crystallized in the memories of both Australians and New Zealanders, becoming part of both nation’s identities. Anzac Day honors this legacy.
To honor Anzac Day in Australia, commemoration services are held at dawn (which is the time the Anzac forces landed at Gallipoli) and then later in the day veterans and current servicemen and servicewomen meet to take part in marches throughout Australia. In Newcastle, I attended the march as well as a second commemoration ceremony that took place after the march. The events made me reflect on the contributions Australian and New Zealand servicemen and servicewomen made towards ensuring peace and freedom in our world and the struggles they went through to achieve it. The whole experience was a very humbling one.
Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.
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