What does the day 25th April mean to Australians?
It’s the ANZAC Day. It’s a national public holiday when people honor and remember all soldiers having fallen for Australia and for freedom around the world.
A normal tradition in most countries is to commemorate victories. A few examples are Victory in Europe Day (8th May), Victory over Nazi Germany Day (9th May) in Russia and former Soviet Union member countries; Victory over Japan Day in the States (9th August), China and Taiwan (3 September), etc.
Australia does not follow this custom. Kokoda was a historic victory of Australian army over the Japanese, but it is not made a special day. Instead, the fight at Gallipoli (1915), a campaign in which Australians could not reach a success, is the origin of the biggest remembrance day in the country, the ANZAC Day. Every year, when Australia and New Zealand are in Dawn Services, Turks also make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli peninsula. In parks around Australia, it is easy to see memorial monuments for the World War I, World War II, especially Gallipoli (Turkey, 1915), Tobruk (Libya 1941), Kokoda (Papua New Guinea, 1942) and Long Tan Battle (Vietnam, 1966), etc.
Someone tells me that it is unreasonable for losers to commemorate their past of being defeated. The glory goes to the winners, but the past belongs to everybody. Whether they were losers or winners, Australians pay respects to their fallen sons and daughters, pay respects to their past.
2. Gallipoli, by Peter Hart, Profile Books, 2011.
3. Kokoda, Peter FitzSimons, Hachette Australia, 2013.
4. Tobruk, Peter FitzSimons, Harper Collins, 2006
Headline photo: State War Memorial in Kings Park, Perth, Australia.