USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘army’
Customs
general
Rituals, festivals, holidays

ANZAC Day

“ANZAC Day is our Australian day where we acknowledge, um, the sacrifice, I guess, of the Australian soldiers in both World War I and World War II. Um, it takes place on the 25th of April every year. Um… It kind of, it came from- Well, ANZAC stands for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corp. And so ANZAC was like the nickname given to like the soldiers who went over to fight in both world wars, but in the first world war, it’s like this really long story about how, um, the Australians got kind of called in to kind of, um, take the heat off another country, I think it was Britain or something. Um, got called in to like take the heat off them and distract the enemy for a bit, but they ended up walking into basically a slaughter. They kind of just off-loaded the boats, they landed, and they all got killed. Like, we learned about this in, like, primary school and high school but like, it’s that kind of thing where like, you learn about it so much that you kind of just tune it out. I’ve never learned the specifics, but like, thousands died, and like… It’s remembered in, like, Australian culture because it was like the first time. It was in the first world war. It was the first time that Australia kind of like proved itself I guess, in a way? Australian soldiers went over there and they kind of um… We were a newly formed nation at the time, so we’d only been on our own, like, independent for about 18 years at that point, and like, we hadn’t really proved ourselves. So we went over there and even though, like, hundreds of men got slaughtered, it’s kind of remembered as a sign of like Australia kind of asserting itself as a strong nation. So like as people who will, um, kind of tough it out, I guess, and that’s kind of what ANZAC Day has come to mean for Australians every year. So the tradition is that on the 25th of April every year, um, not every Australian does it, but like, it’s kind of, um, a lot of Australians do, so I would say like 50% would observe the day, but like everybody acknowledges it, everybody knows what the 25th of April is, but I would say around 50%, 60% get actively involved in the day. I personally do. My family, not all my family does, but me and my mum do. We get up really early, at like 4AM or 5AM and we go to what we call a dawn service, which is where you go to your local suburb, I guess, your city center, your county. So every suburb has kind of like a monument where it has on it inscribed all the names of the men who died during the ways from your suburb. So all the local men who enlisted and died during service are written on the wall, and at the dawn service there’s like, literally thousands of people from your suburb. They gather and usually do an hour-long service where it’s people from like the army, the air force, and the navy, all come to be like representatives of the ANZACS. They also have ex-service men. People, anyone who’s still alive from the first or second world war come as honorary guests. Descendants of the original ANZACS come if they are still alive or still live around here. It’s a nice service. They have speeches and prayers from the different denominations. And they have singing, like some songs usually about God, but just some songs that they usually say were, like, sung on the battlefield. And one of the most important parts of the dawn service for all Australians, and even if you don’t go to the dawn service, you know the sound of, it’s like this horn that they play. It’s a trumpet. It was like the trumpet that they played on the battlefield. It was like the trumpet that roused them to battle and told them it was time to fight. But also it was the horn that they played when the fight was over and basically everyone was dead and they called a retreat, so like, it’s kind of the sound of this horn that signals the start and the end of the dawn service like the one that signaled the end of the fight on the 25th of April, which was when all the men died. It’s usually like a pretty moving service, I guess. A lot of people, like, sing along and join in prayer. Most will also, like, shed a few tears during prayers or speeches because like the sacrifice that the men made on the battlefield made us able to keep Australia as an independent nation, free from enemies invading, I guess.”

 

This was a very solemn piece to collect. The source spoke about ANZAC Day with a lot of respect. She knew a lot of the history and wanted to pay respect to the people it honors. It’s a great idea, I think, much like our Veteran’s Day. I feel like ANZAC Day is far more personal than Veteran’s Day, though. Americans don’t particularly do anything on Veteran’s Day, where as it seems Australians have organized a lot to do on this day. They must have a different kind of respect for their armed forces. They also have far less people in their country, so that might be why it’s more personal. Whereas for us, we have thousands of veterans. It’s not quite the same. We also sort of treat it as just a day off of work or school rather than a day that’s actually dedicated to a certain group of people.

Legends
Narrative

Fort Monroe – Confederate ghost stories

ITEM:
(1) The informant’s father’s family had just moved into Fort Monroe — her father was visiting from his undergrad (Purdue) and was almost 20 at the time. The night he came home, everyone in the family heard the sound of heavy chains dragging across the floor of the upstairs attic. The next day, her dad and his dad went to investigate. They saw nothing, and it never happened again, but everybody agreed on the sound.

(2) One time, a bunch of the army wives got together and they were talking about their houses. They ended up comparing ghost stories. One of them was saying that she walked into the kitchen with her husband and there was a cat there — they didn’t have a cat. The cat looked at them, and then turned away and walks through a wall. Eventually, the family looked up the plans for the building in the engineer’s office and originally there’d been a door in the space the ghost cat walked through.

BACKGROUND:
The informant’s ethnicity is half-white, half-Filipino American. Her father, who is white, was in the army, and his father flew helicopters in Korea and Vietnam — their family grew up moving from army base to army base.

Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia, was where they kept the really important POWs from the Civil War, like Jefferson Davis. For those POWs, they would build quarters for their wives. It was widely understood that the town ghost was the ghost of a woman whose face sometimes appears in the widow at Mrs. Davis’s old quarters, waiting for her husband to come back.

CONTEXT:
The informant, who is one of my housemates, told me the stories, which originated from her father, in conversation. Her father actually recently visited her (4/30/14), and later corroborated details of her stories with him, the primary source.

ANALYSIS:
Whenever people live in older areas, or areas with a lot of history, it seems much more common to encounter ghost legends, and for people to be more comfortable with the idea of ghosts. This is of course helped along by my informant’s father’s religious upbringing. His family was Catholic — it was totally normal to talk about ghosts, and nobody talked about them as if they’re inherently scary.

Additionally, Fort Monroe is an area so closely tied to the Civil War, the bloodiest and one of the most traumatic events in American history. The distance in time between then and the modern day isn’t as far as people might think, and one way to tie these two eras together is by passing on legends about local history.

For more information about Fort Monroe’s ghost sightings, click here.

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