Conflict & Justice

ANZAC day commemorations draw thousands to marches in Australia, New Zealand and Gallipoli, Turkey (VIDEO)


Australians and New Zealanders sleep outside before a ceremony marking the 98th anniversary of Anzac Day at Anzac Cove, in western Canakkale, on April 25, 2013.

Australians and New Zealanders have turned out in record numbers to honor their war dead at ANZAC Day ceremonies worldwide, marking the two countries' equivalent of Memorial Day.

The commemorations are held each year on the April 25 anniversary of the ill-fated 1915 landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at Gallipoli, in modern-day Turkey, during World War I.

More than 10,000 New Zealand and Australian servicemen died in the failed eight-month campaign 98 years ago.

Increasing numbers of young Australians and New Zealanders attend a dawn service at Gallipoli, on Turkey's Aegean coast, which has become a symbol of courage and comradeship for the two nations' war vets.

Meanwhile, veterans of all wars and their family members marched Thursday in parades to honor those who fought.

At least 20,000 turned out for a parade in Sydney, while 30,000 turned out in the Australian capital, Canberra.

The crowd at Auckland's War Memorial Museum was put at 10,000.

And more than 5,000 mainly Australians and New Zealanders traveled to Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula for the dawn service, the Fairfax media reported.

SKY News cited Maurice Kriss, 76, an Australian navy gunner who served in Malaya, as saying that Anzac Day was his favorite day of the year.

"In my life I live from one Anzac Day to another. As long as I can do the march I feel alive."

Sgt. Scott Hill, whose grandfather was one of the last "Rats of Tobruk" from World War II and who died last year at the age of 97, took his 5-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter to the march proudly wearing his medals on their chest.

He told The Australian newspaper:

"I don't have religion - this is my day. It always brings a tear to me eye."

The TVNZ website quoted veteran Damian Walker as saying in Auckland:

"I spent some time in the New Zealand Army deploying to Afghanistan, it's a big day for me, probably the most important day of the year."

In Gallipoli, 27-year-old Kim Wood, from Perth, camped out overnight at the site of the service.

She said:

"It is a very weird feeling to be sleeping here where they died. In a way it makes you feel closer to them."