Hundreds of service members and foreign civilian officials gathered April 25 to honor the memories of Australian and New Zealand service members during the 95th Annual Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day Commemoration at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) Hawaii. The Marine Corps has supported the ceremony here since 1973.
The event serves as a memorial to all ANZAC personnel who served and died during times of war, conflicts and peace keeping operations, according to Jane Coombs, deputy chief of mission for the New Zealand Embassy to the U.S.
In keeping with U.S. traditions, honoring those who fight by their side, officials with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific supported the memorial with a ceremonial platoon, color guards, an honors firing detail and wreath bearers.
“Respect for heroism and devotion to one's country should be honored by those who put their own lives on the line because they especially understand the sacrifice required to make such a commitment,” said Brig. Gen. John Broadmeadow, MarForPac’s duty commander. “American service members know firsthand those sacrifices and are right to respect and honor it in others, especially among such close allies.”
Australian and New Zealand officials recognized MarForPac’s support throughout the years.
“For more than 20 years (MarForPac’s) contribution has made this one of the most memorable ANZAC Days observed around the world,” Coombs said.
Tucked in between the ribbons and medals of service members or on the collars of the others who attended, a sprig of rosemary could be seen to remember the first battle the ANZACs fought on the slopes of Gallipoli, Turky, in 1915 where the plant is found in abundance.
The World War I battle was the first time ANZACs had fought in war, said David Binns, Consulate General of Australia, Honolulu. It had been 15 years since the Australian colonies had united as a nation.
Despite the death of 11,000 ANZACs, Australians and New Zealanders have commemorated the attack as the moment their nations stood united and demonstrated their toughness and courage in battle.
“People may wonder why such an unsuccessful attack is so celebrated,” Binns said. “Gallipoli had the feeling of a decisive moment and shocked our nations. After Gallipoli, what we had in common was far more important than our differences."
By the end of World War I 61,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders lost their lives.
Since then, U.S. and ANZAC forces have been in every conflict together, Binns said proudly.
Resilience, resourcefulness and most importantly mateship, as he said, are the qualities remembered and celebrated during the annual memorial. A mateship, or friendship, that continues between their nations today.