Anzac Day Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Many countries have holidays that honor the people who have served their country in the military. Australia and New Zealand observe a holiday like that called ANZAC Day. Come learn about this special day, what ANZAC means, why red poppies are part of the day's ceremonies, and some other interesting facts about this somber holiday.

What is ANZAC Day?

Imagine traveling a long way to go on vacation. As you walk through the central part of the city with your family, you notice a huge display of red flowers, with people standing around. But this is not a garden you are looking at. You are in Australia on ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day is a solemn holiday that honors the men and women of Australia and New Zealand who served their country in the military and died, as well as those who are still living. ANZAC is an abbreviation for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Map of Australia and New Zealand
Map of Australia and New Zealand

Every April 25th, ceremonies are held in both countries to honor the sacrifices of their brave military men and women. It is similar to Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the US, except both the war dead and living service members are honored during this one day.

How did ANZAC Day Start?

In 1914, World War I started and Britain went to war with Germany. Because Australia and New Zealand were British colonies, men in those countries volunteered to fight for Britain as part of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

On April 25, 1915, these soldiers landed at Gallipoli (pronounced guh-LIH-puh-lee), which is part of Turkey. The Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought courageously there for 8 months in muddy, mucky conditions. About 8,000 died in the fight and around 18,000 were injured.

Besides the fighting, they suffered with lice, bad food, little drinkable water, and illness.

Even though they had to withdraw, they were viewed as brave men who sacrificed everything for their countries.

Modern ANZAC Day parade
Modern ANZAC Day parade

ANZAC Day originally started as a way to honor and remember those courageous men. Eventually, it turned into a day when both the military men and women who died serving their country in all wars, as well as those who are still living, are honored.

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