ANZAC Day – so much more than a public holiday

As many of us go about our lives focused on family and work commitments, the words “oh, next week there is a public holiday,” are often met big smiles and eager discussions around what the plans for the day are and how nice it is to have a shorter working week. 

As public holidays approach, a good question to ask yourself is - do I know what this holiday is about? 

As we approach Anzac Day, we challenge you to consider taking time to reflect on several pertinent questions to help you reflect on what ANZAC Day means to the families of many Australians who have lost loved ones through periods of international conflict.

What does ANZAC stand for?

Australia and New Zealand Army Corps

When is Anzac Day and why is that date important?

Anzac Day is the 25th of April. This date marks the anniversary of the first major military fighting action fought by the combined forces of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in World War 1. On the 25th of April 1915, Australia and New Zealand combined forces landed on the beaches of Gallipoli intending to secure the Gallipoli peninsula for the allied navies.  

As often with war, both sides suffered significant casualties and after an 8-month stalemate, the allied forces withdrew with the total loss of life from this campaign estimated to be more than 130, 000. 

The brave actions of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers throughout the campaign left a powerful legacy and has become a symbol and time upon which Australians pay their respects and remember all those who have sacrificed their lives in war. The day has become an opportunity to pay our respects to all those who have chosen to risk their lives, past or present to keep our country safe.

What do we have Dawn Services?

The military term “Stand to” references the time just before dawn where soldiers would come together, be awake, alert, ready their weapons and prepare for what may come. The dawn service timing is said to pay respects to and represent the comradeship felt by soldiers during those quiet moments.

How can I pay my respects on Anzac Day?

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Respect comes from the heart of each person and can be given in your unique way. 

Having said that, each year there are countless events/Dawn Services held throughout the country that you can attend. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions mean that many of these have been cancelled or restricted in their attendance.  

The best option is to go online and look for the events being held in your local area. Information is regularly provided about what is happening and any restrictions in place. RSL Australia has also launched the “Light Up the Dawn” initiative which enables you to commemorate this day in your own, personal way. Click here for up-to-date Anzac Day information. 

Whether you attend or hold a formal event or not is up to you and there should never be judgement surrounding this. We put forward that perhaps the most powerful way you can honour those who have given their lives for us is to live by the values that represent the Anzac spirit: endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, and mateship. 

Challenge yourself every day, not just on Anzac Day, to take action in alignment with one of these values. At a time where the world is facing difficulties like never before, living these values will bring us together and ensure that the challenges that we face make us stronger, not tear us apart. Doing this will ensure Anzac Day will forever be, so much more than just a public holiday.