ANZAC Day on the 25th April was originally to honour those who fought in WW1 at Gallipoli in Turkey. Now it commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who took part in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
Almost 10,000 ANZAC soldiers fell during the campaign at Gallipoli, along with British, Irish, French and Indian troops. The objective was to knock the Ottomans (Turks) out of the war and capture Constantinople (Istanbul). They spent 8 months in brutal conditions before the remaining men were withdrawn.
100 years later in 2015 thousands of New Zealanders and Australians travelled to Turkey and the now renamed Anzac Cove for the commemoration services and passes to attend had to be allocated by ballot.
25th April is a public holiday in New Zealand. Thousands attend dawn ceremonies wearing the symbolic red poppy.
In Athens there is a morning remembrance service at the Faleron Commonwealth War Cemetary on the coast just out of Athens. This year it was attended by the Greek Minister for National Defence and Ambassadors and Heads of Missions of 15 countries. Usually the ceremony gets some television coverage but I haven't seen any today.
Services also take place at the Commonwealth War cemetaries on the island of Rhodes and at Souda Bay in Crete.
17,000 NZs and Australians served in Greece, including my father and my uncle George.
Last night I received an email from my cousin Jenny in NZ which gave me a moving picture of the day and what it means.
..... it's 7 o'clock on Anzac Day. Wellington has turned on a superb morning. Windless and cloudless. I'm watching dawn parades on Tv. Services from Wellington, Auckland, Sydney Australia are being broadcast live. There are moving moments, and very large crowds everywhere. Our little choir will meet at 9.30 wearing black and a knitted poppy, and sing at our own service of readings, hymns,and remembrance ......
Personally, l find it a difficult day, bringing back many memories of my father who never got over the the battle of El Alamein and how my mother reacted to learning of Uncle Frank's death while we were living in Nelson.
There will be Tv coverage all day, on a beautiful autumn day. I'm remembering Harry's* great remark, what it was like in his little boat in the Mediterranean during the shellings. He said his crew of cockneys went below deck, covered heir ears with their hands and called 'I want me mom'! A lovely memory.
* My father