Happy ANZAC Day!
I've been on the road again. Spending some more time in Sydney, Australia. Sydney set a record today after posting its' eleventh consecutive day of rain. It's been 77 years since Sydney has had more than ten strait days of rain in April. Today I collected my things in my hotel room and prepared to head to the airport for my flight back to Los Angeles. As I looked out my window upon a rainy windy morning, I couldn't help but notice the buzz. All around the city there was talk of the upcoming ANZAC celebration and people scurrying about. On the radio there was talk about the parades and celebrations. On television they were running a recurring documentary describing what ANZAC day is all about. For those who don't remember from high school history class or never knew, here's a brief reminder:
ANZAC - stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC Day commemorates and recognizes the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a Federal Commonwealth for only thirteen years. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, under a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stale-mate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.
I won't be around to enjoy the celebrations this year. In the past, I've witnessed the parades and watched as they blocked off the streets in the "Rocks" area of Sydney and prepared for a period of drinking and merry-making. I've even stopped in a pub - "The Hero of Waterloo" and shared a pint or two with a couple of Aussies and listened to perhaps the oldest band to ever grace the stage. It's a fun time and a wonderful tribute to those brave lads on all sides who fought in Gallipoli. I won't be around this year but I will make a point to rent the movie Gallipoli and eat some ANZAC biscuits to remember.