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.