Sunday, April 27, 2008


ANZAC day is a big day for New Zealand. It's kind of like their Fourth of July, Memorial Day and little bit of the Boston Tea Party rolled into one.

I've read historical descriptions of ANZAC day that describe in specific terms all of the details of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps beach landing and invasion at Gallipoli in 1915, but these accounts don't really touch on what ANZAC day MEANS to New Zealanders.

Armies from Australia and New Zealand were called by England to fight the Ottoman Empire, were thrown in as expendables, and through colossal incompetence and bad luck were massacred.

ANZAC Day is a bit like the Fourth of July in America in the sense that it marks the point in history that New Zealanders saw themselves as independent. They left for war as Servants of Her Majesty and those who returned came back as New Zealanders.

It's also a little like Memorial Day in the sense that it's a day of remembrance and somber tribute to fallen men and women of all wars past. It's a day where people lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to remember their own relatives who died in war.

The Boston Tea Party in American history marks an event where things came to a head between the colonists and the mother country. New Zealand and the United States both started out as English colonies and shook off (to varying degrees) the economic and political chains as they emerged as sovereign states.

Of course, the Fourth of July is not somber. It's about tailgate parties, sunburn and blowing things up as much as it's about independence. It's a mid-summer day off work for cookouts and partying, blockbuster movies and big sales at all the stores.

Memorial Day is more of a day of remembrance, but it's also the first holiday weekend of summer and a time to get out of town, go to the lake house, rent a boat, barbeque on the beach, and, well, have a bunch of big sales at all the stores.

ANZAC day seems to retain more of its original flavor, though there are, in fact, big sales at all the stores.

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