On the morning of April 25, 1915, the Anzacs set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the Allied navies.
The objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and an ally of Germany.
The Anzacs landed on Gallipoli and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Their plan to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months.
At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. More than 8000 Australian soldiers were killed.
News of the landing on Gallipoli and the events that followed had a profound impact on Australians at home.
April 25 soon became the day on which Australians remember the sacrifice of those who died in the war.
The Anzacs were courageous and although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy.
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With the coming of the Second World War, Anzac Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians who died in that war. The meaning of Anzac Day today includes the remembrance of all Australians killed in military operations.
Anzac Day remembrance often starts at dawn with ceremonies across the nation. Dawn services are growing in popularity each year with bigger crowds being reported each year.
The holding of a commemorative service at dawn may have had its origins in the military practice of “stand to” at dawn on the battlefield but it also reflects the time of the original dawn landing on the Gallipoli beach.
Later on Anzac Day, ex-servicemen and women meet to take part in marches through major cities and in many smaller centres with formal commemorations held at war memorials.
A typical Anzac Day ceremony can include an introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths, a recitation, the Last Post, a period of silence, either the Rouse or the Reveille, and the national anthem.
After the ceremonies, families often place red poppies beside the names of relatives on the memorial rolls of honour, as they also do after Remembrance Day services. Red poppies were common flowers that bloomed in the fields around the western front in France.
Rosemary is also traditionally worn on Anzac Day, and sometimes on Remembrance Day. Rosemary has particular significance for Australians as it is found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. Since ancient times, this aromatic herb has been believed to have properties to improve the memory.
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