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8 things to teach your kids about ANZAC Day

Teaching children about ANZAC DayANZAC Day, and what it represents, is integral to Australia’s history.

It’s a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorating the veterans who served and died at Gallipoli in the First World War (WW1).

This year in particular, as services and parades are cancelled across the country due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever to mark remembrance at home with our kids on April 25, particularly as they begin to grow old enough to understand the importance of our ANZACs.

Below are some handy facts in easy-to-understand terms to help you teach your kids about ANZAC Day this year.

8 things to teach your kids about ANZAC DAY

What does ANZAC stand for?

‘ANZAC’ is an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought in WWI.

Where and when did WWI happen?

The ANZAC’s first military action for WW1 was an effort to support our allies in capturing the Gallipoli Peninsula to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during the peak of WWI. The ANZACs landed at Gallipoli (now known as ANZAC Cove) on April 25, 1915.

The battle at Gallipoli lasted eight months. It’s estimated 8,709 soldiers from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand died during this time.

Why did WWI start?

WWI was triggered by the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary, and his pregnant wife Sophie. It began as a small conflict in South-East Europe but became a war between European empires. More than 30 nations declared war between 1914 and 1918, most joining the Allies, including Serbia, Russia, France, Britain, Italy and the United States. Together, these countries opposed Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire who formed the Central Powers.

What is the Dawn Service?

The Dawn Service is held annually at 4:30am, marking the time our ANZAC’s approached Gallipoli beach in WW1. It is also the time of the traditional ‘stand-to’, in which troops would be woken to resume their positions, should an enemy attack in the eerie half-light.

Why do we wear a red poppy or rosemary on ANZAC Day?

The red poppy is a symbol of remembrance, first seen in Flanders Field. Poppies sprang from the devastation of war in France and Belgium as they flourished in the soil churned up by the fighting. Red poppies are widely used by Australians as a sign of remembrance, and are both worn and placed on war graves or next to names of veterans engraved on memorials.

Rosemary is another sign of remembrance. It was found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula, and has since become associated with the ANZAC theme of mateship and honouring the memory of fallen and departed comrades.

What is The Ode?

Speeches and poems were composed to commemorate this day, including The Ode which comes from the fourth stanza of the poem For the Fallen.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember them.

The Ode is recited at ANZAC Day ceremonies by an invited speaker, with those present repeating the last words ‘we will remember them’ followed by ‘lest we forget’ upon its completion.

A minute’s silence is then held as a time for reflection and a sign of respect.

The Last Post

The Last Post signifies the end of the day, known as a bugle call in military tradition, which were used to mark phases of the day. The Last Post was incorporated into funeral and memorial services as a final farewell.

On ANZAC Day, it is followed by one or two minutes’ of silence, then a second bugle call, Reveille. Reveille is a bright, cheerful call that woke soldiers at dawn and called them to duty.

The origin of the ANZAC biscuit.

Army biscuits were once a hard biscuit eaten by soldiers as a bread substitute or ground up and eaten as a porridge. The ANZAC biscuit we know today was developed by the mothers, wives and girlfriends of ANZAC soldiers, made of rolled oats and bound with golden syrup (because eggs were scarce during the war), sent to the frontline soldiers by ships.

Donating to Legacy to support our ANZACs is safe and simple – just visit www.legacy.com.au.

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