By By Spc. Samuel J. Phillips, MNC-I PAOMay 3, 2008
Australian servicemembers across Victory Base Complex rose exceptionally early April 25 to remember their fallen brothers and sisters during an Anzac Day dawn service at the Roundhouse on Camp Victory.
The Gallipoli landing was the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The soldiers themselves became known as Anzacs. The pride they took in that name endures to this day.
"In the pre dawn hours of the 25th of April, 1915, the men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC, were disembarking from Royal Navy warships into ships boats which were to be towed towards the landing beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsular in Turkey," said Brigadier Brian Dawson, Joint Task Force 633 deputy commander.
The first Anzac Day was marked by the veterans of the Gallipoli landing in 1916 as they sought the comradeship they had felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. Now Anzac Day is a way for all Australians to remember those who fell, not only in the First World War, but all conflicts Australia has participated in, Dawson said.
The service began before the sun even peeked over the horizon. Servicemembers looked upon three rifles with bayonets driven into sandbags topped with military covers from the three branches of the Australian Defense Force, centered in front of a cenotaph inscribed, "Lest We Forget," and the Australian flag flown at half mast.
After a brief description of the events of the Gallipoli landing and the ensuing eight months the audience's attention was brought to the screen where a slide show of photographs was played in remembrance of those who have fallen in times of conflict.
Once the slide show concluded, Australian Chaplain Paul Bartlett took the stand and opened with an Anzac dedication. "It is written in the hearts of our people that we shall seek after liberty and teach it. It is recorded in the history of our people that we fought for it and won it. It is recorded on this day that our people have suffered and died for it."
Bartlett went on to give The Lord's Prayer and read John 15:10-15, after which he quoted The Lord Jesus Christ, part of which read, "The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them."
Many other prayers were said, and wreaths were laid at the cenotaph. A bugle, which pierced the early morning quiet, played Last Post and later Reveille, as the flag was raised to full mast. The National Anthem was sung and a poem, written by an Australian soldier just days before the event, was read.
As the ceremony ended, many people lingered behind to talk with friends and take pictures next to the cenotaph. This Anzac Day was special for all of those who participated.
"Observing Anzac Day away from home on active service is something you will not forget," Dawson said. "You will remember this dawn service on top of the Roundhouse in Baghdad and tell your children and your grandchildren about it."