After the COVID-19 epidemic cancelled or curtailed public meetings and commemorations in the previous two years, tens of thousands of people gathered across Australia and New Zealand on Monday to honor service personnel on Anzac Day.
Anzac Day was named after a deadly fight that took place during World War One on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. Thousands of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) men were among a larger Allied force that landed on the Gallipoli peninsula’s limited beaches on April 25, 1915, in an ill-fated operation that claimed more than 130,000 deaths.
Anzac Day commemorates all Australian and New Zealand troops who served in all conflicts.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is up for re-election next month, paid respect to the people of Ukraine who are resisting a Russian invasion during a dawn service in Darwin, Northern Territory.
“As we remember those who fought for our independence and freedom on this day, we stand with the people of Ukraine who are doing the same thing right now,” Morrison said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, proves that peace cannot be taken for granted.
“We may feel a long way from this fight in New Zealand, but we are all intrinsically linked to what it represents,” Ardern said during her Anzac Day speech in Auckland.
During an Anzac Day dawn service at Auckland Museum, the Ukraine flag was flown.
On Monday, without any pandemic restrictions, crowds gathered at dawn services across Australia and New Zealand.
“The last few years with Covid-19 have been incredibly hard,” naval veteran Ray James said at a dawn service at Sydney’s Martin Place Cenotaph, according to media reports.
“I’m ecstatic to see the massive numbers that have gathered today.”