Caturday: Anzac Day

Caturday is usually humorous in nature, but for this one I wanted to mark an occasion that’s observed in my part of the world.

April 25 is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand. It is similar to Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day in the US. Originally meant to commemorate the disastrous battle for the Gallipoli Peninsula, it was later made a day to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders who fought and died in any war or conflict. For a few days before Anzac Day, remembrance poppies made of felt are sold to fundraise for the Returned Services’ Association.

When World War One started, many countries of the British Empire sent troops to Europe to fight. Australia, and my own country of New Zealand, were no exception. Thousands of lives were sacrificed on the battlefields collectively known as ‘Flanders Fields’, which include Ypres and Passchendaele.

A Canadian physician by the name of John McCrae, wrote the following poem, In Flanders fields after presiding over the funeral of a friend. It is well known in many countries.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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