The turnout of families here is heartening, with local schoolchildren, this year represented by Charissa Birtwell and Luke Hewitt, keeping the Anzac spirit alive by reciting their essays on what ANZAC Day means to them.
This service grows every year and is a simple and moving tribute commemorating the gratitude we feels and the debt we owe to our servicemen and women.
The Meaning of Anzac day
Is ANZAC Day, as some claim, a celebration of war?
I do not believe so. It is a commemoration the bravery and self-sacrifice of the young men of all wars, who gave up their dreams, youth, health and happiness, and in many cases their lives, so that we can enjoy those things.
Ninety five years ago today the ANZAC spirit was born at Gallipoli. At 5.38 on a dawning Sunday morning they went ashore at Ari Benu to meet fierce resistance their foes, the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Unknown to the troops, they had been landed at the wrong place, the enemy were well dug in to fortified positions, and the campaign was doomed before it began. Planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war by advancing to Constantinople, it quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight long and bloody months.
Towards the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed over the eight months of the campaign. 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war, with the first commemorative ceremonies held in 1916.
The ‘War to end all wars’ sadly dragged on in bloody sacrifice until November 1918.
ANZAC Day has gone beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli to become the day we remember ALL 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.
Australians recognise 25 April as an occasion of national remembrance, with commemorative services at dawn – the time of the original landing – across the nation. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women meet to take part in marches through the major cities and in many smaller centres, and participate in more formal commemorative ceremonies held at war memorials around the country.
The Dawn Service has its origins in a military routine still followed by the Australian Army today. The half-light of dawn is one of the most favoured times for an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons; this is still known as the “stand-to”. As dusk is also favourable for attacks, the routine was repeated at sunset.
After WWI, returned soldiers sought the comradeship experienced in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. A dawn stand-to, with its symbolic links to the dawn landing at Gallipoli, became a common form of ANZAC Day remembrance during the 1920s. The first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927.
Today dawn services are usually simple, movingly sincere ceremonies following the military routine, and attended by families. At the end of the service a lone bugler plays the Last Post and concludes the service with Reveille, the bugler’s call to wake up.
The more formal late morning ceremonies follow a pattern familiar to generations of Australians, with the attendance of local and national dignitaries and military officers, with more speeches and attendees.
On arriving home I managed to catch some shots of 3 vintage planes, a biplane and 2 monoplanes, as they performed for ceremonies on the coastal strip