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.
Hi everyone! I hope this week has been excellent for you so far. I wanted to dedicate a post to Anzac Day, one of the most important holidays here in Australia. As adoptees of this beautiful country, it’s important to us both to understand the traditions, customs and history of Australia, as well know/learn as much as we can about its significant dates/holidays.
Anzac Day is observed every year on April 25th, to mark the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealander troops in Gallipoli (Turkey) in 1915 — this year being its centenary. It was the first significant battle fought by Australia and New Zealand during the First World War and, for many soldiers, was the first time they had ever set foot outside of the country. The word ANZAC is an acryonym for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”, and all servicemen and -women are honored across both countries for their roles around the world in peacekeeping and fighting for their countries. Having had the privilege to have lived in developed countries for my entire life, it’s easy to take for granted the ‘cushy’ and comfortable life I was able to lead – never worried about walking on a land mine or being in the line of action, or concerned that a group of insurgents were going to attack my city. However, when that moment of realization hits that there are people serving all over the globe to protect my freedom, it’s a deep sense of humility and gratitude that sweeps over me. With that said, I want to thank and honor every single member of the Australian military fighting daily for our freedom and safety here – as well as in the United States and South Africa. Thank you for your sacrifices, honor and dedication to your country and for keeping me, my husband and family members safe and protected.
Two years ago, a community project was started by two Melbourne artists, Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, whose fathers had bravely fought in World War II. Their goal was simple: have 5000 knitted poppies created to commemorate the centenary. Poppies are recognized as a symbol of remembrance, with some people here in Australia wearing sprigs of rosemary as a symbol as well. The project soon became viral and spread across the world, totaling 250,000 poppies total!! The incredible installation was laid down on the steps of Federation Square on Thursday, the 23rd – and then moved onto the Princes Bridge on Anzac Day for the march. It was a sea of red – each poppy completely different from the one beside it. Some were knitted, some crocheted, and others were felt, some with stories and names of servicemen and -women who had served for the country. It was emotional, beautiful and overwhelming all at once. To learn more about this project and to see more incredible photos around Melbourne, head over to the 5000 Poppies blog.
Another tradition of Anzac Day are Anzac biscuits (or cookies for us American folk!), which are believed to have been sent to the soldiers during the war by their wives and family members, since the biscuits do not contain eggs and the ingredients do not spoil easily (so it was easy to ship over long distances and to last for a while). They’re delicious, especially with milk, and we enjoyed them. They’re very much like oatmeal cookies, but they contain golden syrup, which makes them nice and sweet!
On the morning of Anzac Day across Australia, there are dawn services, in which thousands turn out to pay their respects to the fallen (120,000 people turned up to the dawn service in Canberra – incredible). There were two services in Melbourne at the Shrine of Remembrance, one of my favorite sites here in Melbourne, which I plan to cover soon here on the blog. It is an incredible structure (see below), with an entire bottom level dedicated to the wars and battles that Australians have fought and continue to fight in. There was also a march through the city where descendants of those who fought in the First World War were able to come together to honor their family members, and we were able to witness some of it from our balcony. We also attended church on Sunday, and watched a brief informative video talking about the battle at Gallipoli, as well as the importance of Anzac Day. It was then followed by the playing of The Last Post, a bugle call that is used to signify the end of the day’s activities, but is also played at military funerals and remembrance days. It was followed up by the singing of the Australian anthem, Advance Australia Fair – you should definitely give it a listen; it’s so beautiful, and I got quite emotional singing it!
Lastly, if you get a chance to, The Water Diviner just released in the U.S. It’s an Australian movie about a father whose sons go to fight in the battle of Gallipoli and go missing, and he goes to Turkey to find them. My parents saw it and loved it, and Will and I plan to watch it soon! Russell Crowe directed and stars in the movie, and Andrew Lesnie did the cinematography for it (he has previously done all of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies) – which was his last film before he tragically passed away this past week :(. If you do get a chance to see it, let me know in the comments what you thought of it.
Hoping you all enjoy my mini history lesson :) There is still so much to learn about Australia, and we hope to visit some more of the museums here (especially now that it’s cooler/rainier and we’ll want to be indoors!). You can rest assured that when we do visit them, I’ll be posting lots of updates, so look out for those!
Hoping you have a wonderful rest of the week ahead!