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Australia and New Zealand Commemorate Anzac Day

A veteran records a band with his phone as Australian military personnel, past and present, commemorate ANZAC Day during a march through the city center in Sydney, Australia, April 25, 2021. Many Australians and New Zealanders consider it one of the most sacred days of the year.

Anzac Day on April 25 is one of the most sacred days of the year for many Australians and New Zealanders.

Commemorative services have been held to remember a catastrophic campaign 107-years ago on the Gallipoli peninsula in what is now Turkey.

It was the first major military action fought by the Anzacs β€” an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.

An estimated 8,700 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died during the Gallipoli offensive, along with many more from Britain, France and Turkey.

But the way Anzac Day is commemorated in the two former British colonies has changed. From the 1960s to the 1980s, anti-war protesters in Australia used it as a platform to express their views. Public interest in Anzac Day waned before it was revived by politicians, as they embraced its spirit of camaraderie, mateship and sacrifice.

In New Zealand, Anzac Day now promotes a sense of unity, and the loyalty to the British Empire that was once so prominent is downplayed, officials say.

Rowan Light, a historian from the University of Auckland, says β€œthe meaning of the Anzac legend has evolved.”