The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan serve as constant reminders for people everywhere of the sacrifices soldiers make on behalf of their countries. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs), for example, lost 8,000 men in the Battle of Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.  So, every year on 25 April, Australian citizens take time to remember not only those soldiers who fought and died at Gallipoli, but also to honour other soldiers who have served in the Australian military during war and peace time.

In 1916, 25 April became officially known as ANZAC Day. During the 1920s, it became a national day of commemoration for all 60,000 Australian soldiers who died during World War I. Today, Australians hold commemorative services at dawn in remembrance of the actual landing and commemorative ceremonies that usually take place at war memorials throughout the country.

Some may recall the 1981 movie “Gallipoli” starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee as ANZAC soldiers. The movie’s climactic scene depicts the 7 August 1915 Battle of Nek in which 234 ANZACs lost their lives. The Gallipoli campaign itself lasted eight months and ended in a stalemate 9 January 1916. The campaign was a joint attempt of the British and French to gain control of Constantinople (now known as Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey).

The Battle of Gallipoli was the first major battle in which the ANZACs had fought, and ANZAC Day remains Australia’s biggest day of commemoration, trumping both Armistice Day and Remembrance Day.

Australian citizens who want to participate in commemorative events can get more information here.