Sunday, April 25, 2010


Anzac Day in New Zealand is held on 25 April each year to commemorate New Zealanders killed in war and to honour returned servicemen and women. The day has similar importance in Australia, New Zealand's partner in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli. The ceremony itself has been continually adapted to the times, but has also steadily acquired extra layers of symbolism and meaning.
The Dawn Service

A typical commemoration begins with a march by returned service personnel before dawn to the local war memorial. Military personnel and returned service-men and -women form up about the memorial, joined by other members of the community, with pride of place going to the war veterans. A short service follows with a prayer, hymns (including Kipling's 'Recessional' or 'Lest We Forget'), and a dedication which concludes with the last verse of Laurence Binyon's 'For the Fallen':

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.

The Last Post is then played, followed by a minute's silence and Reveille. A brief address follows, after which the hymn 'Recessional' is sung. The service concludes with a closing prayer and the singing of the National Anthem.

Another ceremony takes place later that morning, with returned service personnel wearing their medals, and marching behind banners and standards. The veterans are joined by other community groups, including members of the armed forces, the Red Cross, cadets, and veterans of other countries' forces.

Anzac wreath.
The march proceeds to the local war memorial, where another service takes place, including the laying of wreaths by various organisations and members of the public.

This service is a less intimate and emotional ceremony than the dawn service, but serves as a more public commemoration. The speech, usually by an important dignitary, serviceman, or returned serviceman or woman, tends to be of a conservative nature, with much stress on nationhood and remembrance. After these services, many of the veterans retire to the local RSA club or hotel, where they enjoy coffee and rum (in the case of the dawn service) and 'unwind' after an emotionally and, for elderly veterans, physically exhausting event. At the end of the day, the ceremony of the 'Retreat' is performed.

1915: Gallipoli Remembered
The first public recognition of the landings at Gallipoli took place on 30 April 1915, after news of the dramatic event had reached New Zealand.
For the "rest of the story" go to NZ History/Anzac

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