Wednesday, April 24, 2013

His: Living in America - April 24th

       A few months ago I briefly discussed that Australia and America have some different holidays. This Thursday, April 25th is ANZAC day. (ANZAC is an acronym for Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) This is one of the most honoured and respected days in the year. The day is a time for all of us to remember those who have died in battle while defending Australia or her allies. April 25th is the designated day as it is the anniversary of the first campaign at Gallipoli that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. (More information about the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli can be found here)

         ANZAC is a big deal in Australia. As students we were taught the importance of remembering those who had given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and would often lay wreaths at local monuments. Large crowds attend the services and marches and it truly is a community event. Most stores are closed and most people have the day off so they can attend the services and other events throughout the day.

        People honor ANZAC day in different ways. In most towns and cities there are dawn services to remember those who have perished in battle. The services are often attended by members of the community in addition to veterans and include laying of wreaths, playing of the last post and the Reveille. Similar services are often held later in the morning. There are also marches/parades in many communities which include veterans and other community groups. After the march and services many veterans will gather in local gathering spots for fellowship and lunch.

       I played in the city brass band when I lived in Australia and we had a busy but fulfilling day on ANZAC day. We would start off playing at the dawn service, then board a bus to travel to a small community nearby to play in the march and their morning service there. We would then travel back to our city and participate in the march, service and then lead the march to the RSL club for lunch. I was often tired at the end of the day but the veterans always appreciated us playing music for them and being part of their special day. They all sacrificed a lot for us and this was the least we could do for them after they did so much by serving for the country.

      ANZAC day is not celebrated in America but they do have a similar holiday called Memorial Day which is the last Monday in May. Even though I will not be able to participate in the services or marches on ANZAC day I do plan to take a few moments to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and helped ensure our freedom.


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