My ANZAC Story

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

For those who are not from New Zealand or Australia, the term 'ANZAC' may seem quite strange. Australia and New Zealand Army Corps are soldiers who have served our two countries. ANZAC Day is one day a year dedicated to remembering those who have fought for our country. It is annually held on the 25th April, where the Anzacs were deployed into Gallipoli in 1915. This year, 2015 marks the 100th year of this day.

My family have very strong relations to ANZAC Day. All four of my grandparents had a big involvement in WWII. My mother and father's fathers were soldiers. Mum's Dad served in France and Italy as a foot soldier, fighting in the battle of Casino. Dad's Dad was an engineer, and when he worked in France he was captured by German soldiers and was a Prisoner Of War for four years; he was forced to work on German tanks and trains and successfully sabotaged them. As my mother and father's mothers were women, they did not fight, but they both helped. My Mum's Mum was just a teenager when war broke out, so she stayed at home to look after her own father who fought in WWI and worked on a stock farm. Dad's Mum was a plotter on anti-aircraft guns which was used to shoot down the German planes over London. I am very proud of my grandparents who fought in the war so that I could have a life (somewhat) in peace, I am unable to show them how truly thankful I am to them, their siblings, their friends and follow soldiers who fought and defended for their future generations.

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.

ANZAC Day itself is a day dedicated to respect for the soldiers. There is a Dawn Service which begins while it's dark and finishes just after sunset. It starts off with a march across town to the war memorial. Ex-soldiers, significant others and family members are joined by military inspired clubs (Boy Scouts, Girl Guides etc), whom are all lead by the military band. The service itself is short, with representatives of the armed forces speaking. The Last Post is played by a trumpet, followed by a minute of silence; this was used in British Army camps to signify the end of the day of battle and it is used today for funerals or ceremonies for those who served. Later in the morning a Citizens Service is held, similar to the Dawn Service, but with more speeches and stories. Wreaths are then laid outside the memorial by clubs, committees, schools and families. After this service, RSA clubs are open for families and friends to have morning tea.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row.

The red poppy is a symbol for the Anzacs, they're made of thin, red cloth with a plastic flower stem, and a pin used to attach it on the chest of the wearer. The poppy flower were the first to bloom over the soldiers' graves during the Napoleon Wars. The Friday before ANZAC Day, RSA veterens (Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association) are out raising funds for the RSA welfare service. For many years I have sat with my Nana, collecting money and pinning poppies on peoples' chests. I always make sure that I have a poppy ready to wear for ANZAC Day and donate whatever I can.

ANZAC biscuits are a traditional treat, cooked by many and recipes altered with each generation. The biscuits were known for their ability to survive journeys across the world to the soldiers at war. Today the biscuits are circular shaped and are commonly served with a cuppa tea. When my Nana was able to bake, each year we'd cook up a batch, so big that it'd last for weeks. Now that I'm a student living away from home, I don't often get a chance to bake my own ANZAC biscuits, and supermarket bought ones are just never the same as homemade.

me at the Wellington ANZAC Day 2013

I hope you learnt a lot about ANZAC, and if you were already clued up about the day and history I hope you found some interesting information about my family! If you are interested in attending a service this April 25th, here's a website for New Zealand residents, and here's a website for Australia residents to find a ceremony closest to you, ceremonies are also held in other places across the world and I'd highly suggest that wherever you are in the world that you attend one. I hope you enjoyed this post, a whee bit different to what I normally upload, but I have a strong connection to ANZACs and I know a lot of my viewers are international and don't understand this, and how important it is for me.

- Louise x

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