ANZAC Day parades continue to march through the streets of Sydney’s Central Business District, but I depart from the crowds and wander over to Martin Place. Dressed in a green suit jacket, green tie, and a green beret, an elderly gentleman is describing the Commando Memorial to a number of curious visitors.
The guns are silent.
In Australia and New Zealand, ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance to mark the 1915 landing at dawn of ANZAC troops at Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey in World War 1 (WW1). The Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) saw their first WW1 military action in Gallipoli as part of an Allied expeditionary force whose aim was to free passage for allied shipping through the Dardanelles, a narrow strait connecting the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and onwards to Constantinople (now Istanbul). Instead, months of heavy fighting became a stalemate with major losses on both sides.
The importance of this date for both countries has ensured that ANZAC Day takes place annually on the 25th of April. In the present, ANZAC Day is a day to remember Australians and New Zealanders who have represented and served their countries in combat and peacekeeping efforts around the world.
Most veterans from the two great world wars of the 20th-century are gone, and soon, they’ll all fade away; the last surviving Australian participant at Gallipoli died in 2002. If ANZAC day has become an excuse for consumption and frivolity, the historical context for present-day commemoration is in danger of becoming lost. Michael Brissenden wrote for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation :
… It’s clear now that Anzac Day has grown to become our most important commemorative day. But is that in itself enough? Should it also spark more of a national conversation? And shouldn’t we at least try and invest the day with what historians like Clare Wright call “historical authenticity”? Along with the mass patriotic sentiment, the huge crowds and even the football grudge matches the day now inspires, some are still searching for more.
The photographs below reflect a small cross-section of people and their memories. By chance, I meet with Ken Curran, Australian World War 2 war-veteran and member of the Order of Australia; I write about him here.
I made all of the photos below on ANZAC Day (25 April) 2013 in the Sydney CBD with a Canon EOS450D/Rebel XSi. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3gp.