I know it from the Australian perspective. So ANZAC day is a day for both Australia and New Zealand, but I know Australians celebrate it this way. You take a pause in the morning–well we celebrated it then–to remember the fallen soldiers. It’s for the first World War. It’s supposed to be everyone, but it’s when they landed in Gallipoli, which I think is in Turky or somewhere in the Middle East, and a bunch of people died. It’s similar to American memorial day. It’s like the whole country stops, and it’s like you have a toast to them. We did it with orange juice. Then, the rest of the day, you celebrate. I think the morning toast is called the Dawn Service to commemorate the attack. They were slaughtered.
Background/Context: This was told to me by my father. He lived in Australia in ’84 for one year when he was 15 years old with his older brothers, who were high school and college-aged. There were no parents, and they were not used to being such a white country as Australia. My dad is Filipino, but he spent most of his childhood in Papua New Guinea.
After visiting Australia myself, I think in part this is such a big tradition because this was the first time Australia sent large numbers to fight in far away shores. They didn’t have to, which made it even more devestating. WWI was awful, and this is one of the lasting memories. Like my dad said, it reminds me of Memorial day, but it seems more emotional.
Me: do you have a ritual you do when you lose someone close to you?:
“When I was seven years old during one summer my cousin who was three years older than me passed away right around her birthday. She had a rare heart condition that no one really know about… I was with my younger cousin who was visiting me when we both got the call and found out. Now whenever I see a heart shaped rock I always pick it up for her.”
Me: When did you start doing that?:
“I started doing it right after it happened I think. When we went to her actual funeral we all put heart shaped rocks on her grave during her ceremony, and ever since then it’s been something I’ve always done.”
Background: Zoe is a twenty-year old girl from Aspen, Colorado and currently attending USC.
Context: Zoe told me this story at brunch discussing the pain of experiencing a family member who passes away.
Analysis: I was very touched by this story that she shared with me because losing someone important to you is a very intimate, difficult, and emotional thing to share. I have been fortunate enough to only have lost one person in my immediate family in the years I have been alive, so I could not fully understand what losing a close friend or cousin would feel like at such a young age. Everyone has a different understanding of what happens after death and what capacity we have to maintain in contact with the deceased when we are still living. I think collecting something beautiful that reminds you of a special person you lost is a really amazing way of remembering what they meant to you. Zoe has a physical manifestation of remembering her cousin, which I think is a really incredible away of believing that she is seeing a little piece of her cousin every time she comes across a heart-shaped rock in nature.
“In Canada, we have a holiday called Remembrance Day on November 11. It’s for remembering those who died in service for their country. We remember these brave men and women for their courage and devotion, even in the face of extreme hardship. For this holiday, we wear red poppies on our clothes for support. This tradition is supposed to come from the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” from World War 1, I think. I remember reading that poem in school. On this day, we usually attend different ceremonies and visit memorials. The most remembered wars for this day are the World Wars and the Korean War. I remember my friend mentioning that she really appreciates that her grandfather, who fought in the Korean War is honored by the Canadian government as a war veteran who fought well for his country. Especially since this war is often called the Forgotten War. This day reminds us as to why we must work for peace every day of the year.”
The informant finds this holiday to be an especially important one, because she believes that it is essential to honor anyone who has allowed future generations to be able to live in piece. It is also important to her because some of her family members fought in wars, and it allows her to honor and remember them, and to see others honor and remember them. In our everyday life it can often be easy to forget such important things, so have a Remembrance Day is important to re-remember those who have allowed us to have peace.
Remembrance Day closely resembles Veterans Day, and even happens on the same date. I thought they might be identical things, but from researching it on the Internet, it seems as though Veterans Day is something unique to the United States whereas Remembrance Day is celebrated by many different countries of the world. Personally, for Veterans Day, I do not think I do anything special to commemorate those who have fought. Remembrance Day seems to be a bigger deal in Canada, with many national ceremonies happening. I think that the act of wearing red poppies is a nice sentiment, as it is a physical symbol of what he day is about.