7 Anzac Day Traditions...are they being remembered today?

The RSL has spoken about needing to educate young people about the importance of the ANZAC spirit this year, the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing. In a Dawn Service address an RSL representative mentioned that “the youth of today are more connected with themselves than with each other” since “technologies such as the iPhone, iPad and the selfie” have become increasingly popular. He also mentioned that we [the youth of today] are losing touch with the art of face-to-face communication.

I would have to disagree with this statement. I believe that it is through the increased use of technology we [the youth of today] are increasingly aware of each other and important role sharing information plays in the development of closer relationships and a broader awareness of other people and worldly events.


There has also been much talk in the media over the recent weeks that the Spirit of ANZAC is becoming lost on the youth of today. That the reasons behind the ANZAC Day is now more motivated by “getting drunk” and “playing 2-up” than it is about; honouring those who fought for what they so truly believed in, always remember those who did not return to their loved ones and commemorating the freedom they have allowed us.

Again, I would have to disagree with this statement. The outpouring of respectful ANZAC Day dedications on Facebook, the numerous photos of Dawn Service attendances and the sharing of stories from fallen family members would speak to a generation who are keen to learn more about ANZAC Day and the history it strives to preserve, honour and remember.


As a Girl Guide Leader, I have attended Dawn Services and helped in the Sydney City March to encourage the young women (aged 10-14) in my unit to remember the meaning of ANZAC and live their lives knowing the values of the ANZAC Spirit.

  • Mateship - a close and lasting bond based on shared experience

  • Ingenuity - creating something wonderfully useful from very little

  • Trust - understanding that you are part of something bigger

  • Respect - knowing that your actions are valued by others


Having personal ties to Great War servicemen makes me especially proud on ANZAC Day. A descendant of two Gallipoli soldiers, Jack and Albert Peile, who did not return home and the grand-daughter of Kenneth Peter Peile, a Rat of Tobruk in WWII.  

Each year ANZAC Day is an opportunity to be thankful for those who have not come home, respectful to the families who have lost loved ones and to reach out to those who have returned home changed by what they saw.


Remembering the ANZAC Spirit

  1. Gallipoli Landing - 100 years ago, on the 25th April 1915, Australian, New Zealand and other small nations’ strongest and bravest young men waited to determine their fate just off shore from what is now known as the Gallipoli Peninsula. The cliffs were steep, the enemy were ready but their resolve to overcome the challenge remained spirited. This battle has become known as the birthplace of the ANZAC spirit and the first real test for the young Nation of Australia. The time we established our Nation’s Culture of Mateship, Ingenuity, Trust and Respect.

  2. Minute Silence - While at a Dawn Service this year, I heard a young boy asking his mother “why do I have to stand up? why do I have to be quiet?” Her response was “shhhh, I’ll tell you later…”  I waited eagerly at the end of the minute silence for her explanation, but nothing was mentioned. To this little boy I would say… “The minute silence is a time for personal reflection. A time to think about those you may have lost in conflict and a time to acknowledge the sacrifice others have made for you to experience the life you currently live, all in the name of mateship and trust.  

  3. Symbolic Rosemary - From ancient Greek times, Rosemary is a herb associated with improving memory. From more recent times, wild Rosemary was laid on the graves of soldiers killed in Gallipoli in replace for absent flowers.

  4. Dawn Service - A quiet time for reflection when the night is coming to an end and the daylight is yet to pierce the night’s sky. The coldness of dawn chills you to the core and the quietness is often deafening. This commemorative event has been associated with the landing time of the Gallipoli campaign but also for it’s timing with the most feared and frightening time of battle; the moments before the fighting recommences, the bullets start to fly and the horrors of war will be felt again.
    Dawn Services are held throughout the country in major towns and regional centers. They feature songs, hymns, poems, bugle calls and reflections from past and current servicemen and servicewomen.

  5. Last Post - Now played at commemorative events to symbolise the message of “Rest in Peace” for all fallen soldiers, this bugle call was once played at the end of each battle day. It symbolised the end to the fighting for that day and allowed soldiers to rest easy for the night.

  6. Reveille - Now played at the end of a minutes’ silence at commemorative events, this bugle call once signaled soldiers to raise from their sleep, ready themselves and fight another day.

  7. The Ode - An excerpt from a poem form by Laurence Binyon about the horrors of war, this excerpt has become a regular feature at Dawn Services. This excerpt really reflects the ANZAC spirit for me as it talks about the soldier’s strength of character, their trust and reliance on each other and the inherent nature of the ANZAC Spirit as it loves on in each and everyone of us [Australians].


    … “They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not 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.” ...
Laurence Binyon (1869–1943)