There are very few countries around the world that don't have at least one public holiday in remembrance of their involvement in various wars - it's good for tourism, and it tends to distract the average citizen from what's actually going on in that particular country, as all their grievances are swept away in a tide of flag waving, six gun salutes, and musically inept renditions of national anthems. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the fierce, best-bloody-country-in-the-world patriotism common to most of its citizens, the Australian remembrance day, known as ANZAC day, is as bizarre as most of the inhabitants of the Land Down Under. The strength of feeling attached to this particular day has given birth to what Australians love to term the ANZAC legend.
ANZAC, is an actually an acronym, referring to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The ANZAC legend has its origins in 1915, when the British high command conceived an inspired plan to defeat the Turks by landing some troops at a place near the Dardanelles, called Gallipoli. Australia, which was strongly pro-British at the time, enthusiastically assented, and proceeded to land several thousand volunteer troops at Gallipoli post-haste - the ANZACs. Unfortunately for the ANZACs, things didn't go all that well - whilst they had extensive experience at trudging up beaches, whilst dealing with hazards like stonefish, sharks, and surfers, the Australians were unprepared for the additional hazard presented by Turks walking around above them on the Gallipoli clifftops, shooting at them, yelling incomprehensible insults, and possibly stepping on the fingers of the Australians when they tried to climb up the cliffs after them.
As a tribute to the courage, determination, and pragmatic stupidity of the average Australian, the ANZACs persevered, and actually made some significant advances until the British command decided that maybe the entire Gallipoli campaign hadn't been as good an idea as they first thought, and called the whole thing off. The Australians pulled out, leaving behind the bodies of the 20,000 servicemen who had succumbed to lead poisoning. Strangely enough, rather than merely being embarassed by the whole sorry fiasco and more than a little pissed off at the British, the Australian people are proud of the heroic qualities of the ANZACs, and more than a little pissed off at the British. Nowdays, ANZAC day, which is celebrated on April 25th, has become a kind of all-purpose remembrance holiday for all the wars that Australia has participated in.
Hitchhikers who are planning to stop over in Australia, and realise that they'll be there over ANZAC day would do well to realise that Australians have a habit of acting even stranger than usual around ANZAC day. In theory, at least, its a public holiday, which means that various shops, pubs and hotels may or may not be open, depending on whether or not the owner feels like it. Patriotism is almost universal, and this would REALLY not be the right time to start passing deprecating remarks about anything Australian, or make a humorous pun along the lines of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corpse. Interestingly enough, the well developed Australian attitudes to foreigners are completely altered for the duration of ANZAC day - it's one of the few times when New Zealanders can announce their nationality with impunity and, if you're Japanese, now would probably not be the best time to visit. Attitudes to the British are fairly normal - that is to say that they're universally despised, but oddly enough, Americans are actually held in fairly high esteem around ANZAC day, although comments to the effect that the US saved Australia's ass during WWII are not advised.
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