ANZAC Day Commemoration held at Punchbowl in honor of fallen
By Pfc. Ethan Hoaldridge
| | April 25, 2007
The 92nd anniversary of Australia and New Zealand Army Corps Day was observed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl, April 25.
Wednesday also marked the 35th year the commemoration was held at the Punchbowl with U.S. Marine Corps support.
Australians and New Zealanders around the world hold this day special, in remembrance of the brave men that landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, to fight the Turks in 1915 during World War I.
The battle was lost and sacrifices were many. The ANZACs had 8,141 men killed in action, and more than 18,000 wounded.
They were defeated because of poor strategy and leadership, but that’s not what is remembered about that day, said Brigadier Warren Whiting, representative of the New Zealand Defense Force.
“We don’t commemorate a military triumph but a human triumph,” said Whiting. “New Zealand and Australia both share a permanent reminder that 92 years ago two nations came together in the face of overwhelming odds and set a future standard for us to live by today.”
Australians and New Zealanders try to live by and uphold this standard of courage in the face of adversity and “mateship,” said Whiting.
During World War II, the ANZACs extended that mateship, or camaraderie, and fought alongside U.S Marines during their South Pacific campaign, making several amphibious assaults based on what was learned from their forefathers at Gallipoli.
“While still supporting many other operations in the Asian Pacific region, the Marine Corps’ impeccable performance here underlines their dedicated service and our close relationship,” said John Quinn, the Consul General of Australia.
This relationship makes it appropriate that for the last 35 years, Marines from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, have supported their allies in this commemoration by providing a band, color guards, drill platoon, wreath bearers and rifle volley detail.
After the Marines positioned themselves on the white marble steps of the Punchbowl, the Deputy Chief of Mission, New Zealand Embassy to the U.S., the Honorable Ian Hill, spoke these words from the poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon:
"They shall not grow 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.
Lest we forget."
As the words still lingered in the minds of those in attendance, the band began to play the somber melody, “Eternal Father,” as the wreath presentation began.
Those that presented a wreath gave a slow, reverent salute or stood with hands clasped and heads bowed for a moment of silent reflection.
Once the last wreath was placed, a bugler took his position on the steps and played “The Last Post” in honor of the fallen, and was followed by a three-round rifle volley.
As the benediction concluded the ceremony, the words reminded Australians, New Zealanders, U.S. service members and civilians alike of the great sacrifice that was paid then and is still being paid now.