Sydney – Anzac Day April 25 is one of the holiest days of the year for many Australians and New Zealanders.

Commemorative services were held in memory of the 107-year-old catastrophic campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula in modern-day Turkey.

It was the first major military action in which the Anzacs fought, an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.

An estimated 8,700 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers were killed in the Gallipoli offensive, as well as many from Britain, France and Turkey.

But the way Anzac Day was celebrated in the two former British colonies has changed. From the 1960s to the 1980s, anti-war protesters in Australia used it as a platform to express their views. Public interest in Anzac Day faded before it was revived by politicians as they embraced its spirit of camaraderie, friendship and sacrifice.

In New Zealand, Anzac Day now promotes a sense of unity, and loyalty to the British Empire, which was once so notable, is degraded, officials say.

Rowan Light, a historian at the University of Auckland, says “the meaning of the Anzac legend has evolved.”

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