Every year on 25th of April, Australia and New Zealand stop to remember and celebrate a very special day called Anzac Day. It’s a national day of remembrance, that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all the wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.
The date was chosen to mark the anniversary of the first campaign in Gallipoli, Turkey, that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers became known as Anzacs. Anzac Day has become a sacred day for many and remains one of the most important national occasions for both Australia and New Zealand.
The Anzac Day ceremony was first begun by a chaplain, David Garland. Born in Ireland in 1864, Garland migrated to Australia at the age of 22. He joined the Australian army as a chaplain to the soldiers who were about to embark for the Boer War in South Africa in 1896. Then in 1915, Garland was appointed Senior Chaplain to the Queensland Expeditionary Forces, serving in the Middle East in WWI.
Garland witnessed the horrors of war and the suffering of the soldiers and so his catch cry was, “Nothing is too good for our soldier boys”. Garland campaigned for a Memorial Day, and by January 1916, the 25th of April was endorsed, and the first Anzac Day was celebrated in Brisbane, Queensland. Garland created the format for a service, selected hymns, odes and poems and also included the minute’s silence.
After the first world war, Garland established public war memorials and initiated Anzac ribbons which were sold to provide funds to build the war memorials and for the upkeep of soldiers’ graves as well as assisting returned veterans.
Garland also initiated the Anzac Day marches, the first one was held in Brisbane on 25th April 1916 with 8,000 soldiers marching through the streets. Garland also lobbied for Anzac Day to become a public holiday in all the states, and this was achieved in Australia by 1930.
Garland understood the hardships and fears of the soldiers during the stress of war. He saw the need for the soldiers to find comfort, peace and hope, and he shared with them his faith and trust in Jesus.