Today, April 25, is ANZAC Day (the acronym stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps), one of the most meaningful and important national occasions for many Australians and New Zealanders. It marks the one hundredth anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I, the landing of those forces at Gallipoli—the beginning of an eight-month campaign during which 8,000 Australian and almost 3,000 New Zealander soldiers died. Until today, I had heard of ANZAC Day but knew of it only in passing.
A post on an Australian friend’s Facebook page led me to explore it in more detail. My friend’s post wasn’t about ANZAC Day in particular but about an event held in Perth, West Australia in conjunction with ANZAC Day. The event is ANZAC Day Haka for Life. A haka is a Maori tradition, a choreographed posture-dance performed by groups of people who display vigorous body movements, rhythmic stamping of the feet, loud chanting, and facial contortions. Traditionally, haka were Maori war dances intended to instill confidence in warriors and fear in their enemies. The Haka for Life event, though, was performed as a show of support and readiness to help men engaged in personal emotional struggles that could end, if not addressed, in suicide. Here’s a link to a video of the Haka for Life Event. Fascinating and moving stuff.