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What is Anzac Day and why do we observe it every year?

Every year on the 25th of April, hundreds of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders around the world gather at dawn on Anzac Day.

Anzac Day is a time for the community to come together to remember and recognise the service and sacrifice of members of the Australian Defence Force. Originally a commemoration of the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli in modern-day Turkey in 1915, Anzac Day is a public expression of gratitude and reflection which resonates to the present day.​

History of Anzac Day

ANZAC is an acronym and stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps, the name given to the body of troops raised by the two countries to aid the British Empire in the Great War. Throughout the war Australian and New Zealand troops, or 'Diggers' and 'Kiwis', would live, fight and die alongside each other creating a bond between the two nations that still exists today.

Anzac Day is inextricably linked with the landings at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles Strait on the 25th April 1915. On this day ANZAC troops were committed to their first major action of the war, and though the campaign would ultimately prove a bloody failure and leave more than 8,000 Australians dead, it marked the beginning of the Anzac legend.

This legend was poignantly put into words by Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia on Anzac Day 1999:

Anzac is not merely about loss. It is about courage, and endurance, and duty, and love of country, and mateship, and good humour and the survival of a sense of self-worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds.

Reviewed 26 April 2021

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