USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘memorial day’
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.

Customs
Holidays

The Australian Dawn Service

According to the informant, there is a traditional service that occurs during the annual Anzac Day holiday (Australian equivalent of Veteran’s Day). Every year, it is traditional to attend a Dawn Service (named after the time of day when it occurs) at one of the many WWI soldier memorial shrines located across the country. The ceremony begins with the playing of a military tune by a bugle player. This is followed by two minutes of silence and several commemorative speeches made by various military officials. Although it is not required, many wear red Poppy flowers on their chests, which were originally meant a sign of respect for the soldiers that were lost during the WWI Gallipoli Campaign. These now honor the deaths of all Australian soldiers, however. Others like to leave wreaths at the shrine to honor the sacrifices that these soldiers made.

The informant, Angus Guthrie, is a 20 year old student who was born and raised in Australia. Because he and his family have been in the country for a very long time, he believes that he is quite familiar with Australian folklore and traditions. Angus claims that it is impossible for any true Australians to be unfamiliar with the Dawn Ceremony, as it is a national holiday that is instrumental to Australian identity. All parents are expected to teach their children to respect the holiday and to participate in its ceremonies. Even when Angus was not in Australia one year for the Anzac Day holiday, he was still encouraged to find and attend a Dawn Ceremony nearby. Angus felt a deep desire to express his strong emotional connection to the ceremony and to the holiday in general, as it is a yearly event that unites all Australians and incites a strong sense of national brotherhood. This is because the ceremony is now used to honor the soldiers that perished during all Australian battles, not just during the Gallipoli Campaign.

The Dawn Ceremony is interesting because it seems far more revered and complex than the Veterans Day ceremonies us Americans usually experience. While we do attend parades and memorial services, we do not wake up early in the morning and travel to shrines in mass numbers like the Australians do. It would also seem strange for an American to attend a memorial service in a different country. While the reasons behind these differences may be difficult to find, what is certain is that national events like the Dawn Ceremony are essential for unifying the Australian nation.

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