THE lives of the thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers that fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I was remembered at the annual Anzac Day celebrations on Wednesday.
The solemn occasion, marked as a holiday by Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn, and Tonga was also marked by Fiji in a commemorative service held at 4:30am in Suva.
'For the Fallen' a poem by Laurence Binyon which has been a tradition of Anzac Day was recited at the dawn stand-to; a two minute silence was also observed. The Australian and New Zealand national anthems were also sung. "Anzac Day for Australians is a day when we acknowledge the courage, mateship and, above all, the sacrifice demonstrated by Australians and New Zealanders in the face of great odds at Gallipoli,' Acting Australian High Commissioner, Mr Glenn Miles said.
"It's also a time when we honour our servicemen and women who have served and fallen in other conflicts as well as those serving today. "In Australia, there will be wreath-laying ceremonies across the country, while at Gallipoli we expect around 15,000 Australians and New Zealanders to gather to commemorate those that fell that fateful day."
ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915. The date marks the start of the Gallipoli campaign, by the end of which Australia had lost almost 9000 men and New Zealand nearly 2500. A further 20,000 Australians and 5000 New Zealanders were wounded. Anzac Day is observed on 25 April every year by Australians and New Zealanders.
April 25 was officially named Anzac Day in 1916. Originally ANZAC meant someone who had fought at Gallipoli, but it later came to mean any Australian or New Zealander who had fought or served in the World War I.
During the World War II, Anzac Day became a day on which all Australians who had lost their life in combat were remembered. Commemorative services are usually held across Australia and New Zealand at local war memorials at dawn on 25 April; the time of the original landing. This was initiated in the 1920s by returned soldiers after the World War I as a common form of remembrance.