TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka (NNS) -- Members of the Royal Australian air force and Australian army hosted an Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) Day Ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves in Trincomalee during Pacific Partnership 2018's (PP18) Sri Lanka mission stop, 25 April.
The ceremony consisted of multinational service members, assigned to Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) for PP18, and distinguished guests in Trincomalee who celebrated ANZAC Day with the singing of the Sri Lankan and Australian National Anthems, a wreath laying ceremony and a trumpet player performing the song "Last Post," while all guests saluted the memory of all the ANZAC troops who have fallen during a war.
ANZAC Day was established in 1916 to celebrate the soldiers who gave their lives on the front line of the battle of Gallipoli, in Turkey, the first major military action fought by the two countries in World War I.
"On this day, all around the world, Australians and New Zealanders gather together, generally just before new dawn's light, to mark ANZAC Day and the anniversary of the landings at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915," said Tim Huggins, deputy high commissioner, Australian High Commission-Sri Lanka. "This is a day for us to pause and reflect on the sacrifices of those who have served before and those who continue to serve today."
On April 25, 1915, the newly formed ANZAC troops joined World War I. They landed at a place now known as ANZAC Cove on the shores of Gallipoli, and when they went ashore, they fought against German Forces. During their first battle more than 2,000 Australians were killed or wounded.
"We pause to mark this battle, a century ago today, because of the impact of the war on our young country," said Huggins. "From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 Australians were enlisted. Of that number of enlisted service members, more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. It is on this day that we reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of all those who have died or suffered in war."
Listening to the story of how ANZAC Day came to be celebrated never gets old, according to Australian army Lt. Col. Karen Such, commander of the Australian Contingent, serving aboard the Mercy for PP18.
"I grew up celebrating ANZAC Day, and it was always something special to me," she said. "However, to be able to share it with different nations and teach them about my country's part in World War I, was truly amazing. It is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
She added, "I feel honored that while we are out here strengthening bonds with all of these different countries for Pacific Partnership, we are reminded of where our partnerships first began and see how far we have come today."
The location of the ceremony had special significance because in the cemetery, the remains of two men who served Australia during World War II, Able Seaman John Colin Allan and air force Sergeant William Earnest Pearce, remain buried there.
The ceremony concluded with the serving of the traditional ANZAC biscuits and tea.
Pacific Partnership, now in its 13th iteration, is the largest annual multilateral HA/DR preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. PP18's objective is to enhance regional coordination in areas such as medical readiness and preparedness for man-made and natural disasters.
Pacific Partnership 2018 consisted of more than 500 U.S. military personnel stationed worldwide, working side-by-side with host nation counterparts to be better prepared for potential humanitarian aid and disaster response situations.
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