Dreamer, ANZAC stands for Australia/New Zealand Army Corps and dates back to WWI when that corps fought with the Allied Forces against the Fascists. They are perhaps best remembered in the US for their heroic actions and heavy losses during fighting in Turkey, specifically that at Souvla Bay in Gallipoli, Turkey.
GoingNorth, you're right about Anzac Day. There is a lot more to it, but that's it in a nutshell. You would think that as our returned soldiers age and die that such celebrations would die with them. It did look like that would happen back in the Seventies, but not so - attitudes have changed and while Anzac Day no longer appears to glorify war as it seemed to in past years, it is now seen as a celebration of the Australian spirit - of not giving in, of ingenuity, of mateship. It is now so much bigger than an old war.
And thanks for asking about Canberra Day - although Canberra is our national capital, it is really a small country town compared to Sydney or Melboune. A small country town with a city mentality in there somewhere. I found the city's website and copied a relevant bit for you - "Canberra Day is held on the third Monday in March each year, the culmination of a 10 day Celebrate Canberra festival where Canberrans are able to celebrate the physical beauty, and cultural diversity and vibrancy of their city. The Day commemorates and celebrates the official founding of Canberra on 12 March 1913. The Canberra Citizen of the Year is named at this time."
I have a daughter (easy child) who is now a Canberran. I wonder if she knows about Canberra Day? Although she should - it seems it's a public holiday in the ACT.
Hexemaus asked this question last year which I answered in a PM.
ANZAC Day is 25 April and very important to most Australians. Here's what else I said...
Actually Marg misspelled it when she wrote Anzac because the word is actually an acronym A.N.Z.A.C.
The letters stand for Australian New Zealand Army Corps
ANZAC Day - 25 April - is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War on 25 April 1915. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day.
ANZAC Day is special to me because my father and both his brothers served overseas during World War II. All three were in England during the Blitz then went on to Africa to fight Rommel. A maternal uncle was one of Rommel's "Rats of Tobruk". The older brother was wounded and sent home to recover. Dad and his younger brother then went to Greece where their units pushed further into the Italian held lands than any other Allied Units. Such was the secrecy of the War that neither knew until later that they had been in the same battles. They met on Crete in late 1941 when one of them heard that there was an Australian unit nearby and went to investigate. Neither knew the other was in the region. Dad was captured by the Germans when Crete fell, escaped soon after and spent over a year in the mountains of western Crete with the Greek resistance. We have many friends in Greece to this day. Captured again, he was questioned by the Gestapo and spent the rest of the war as a POW in Silesia and eastern Germany. The youngest brother got off Crete when it fell and was sent back to Australia. He was then sent to New Guinea against the Japanese crossing over the infamous Kakoda Track in the New Guinea highlands.I only discovered this year that his unit is the only Australian unit that can claim to have fought all the King's enemies having fought the Germans and Italians in Europe and Africa and the Japanese in the Pacific. This year is the 60th anniversary of those battles in which a small force of ANZACs opposed a numerically superior Japanese force. The most famous of those battles is commemorated in a carefully researched new film "Kokoda" released on 20 April 2006 that celebrates the efforts of the 39th Battalion an understrength militia unit that held off the Japanese for six months. The film's website is http://www.kokodathemovie.com.au/
I am, technically an ANZAC myself, having served in the Australian Army Reserve for 5 years during the 1970's but I don't really claim the title. I feel it belongs more correctly to men like my father and my uncles. As part of the Vietnam generation this was an unpopular move with my peers. While I felt that we should not have been in Vietnam; I saw the need for there to be a military force and took the steps I did to stay out of Vietnam but to be ready in case there was real need for conflict.
Australians are peaceable people in general with a strong sense of loyalty (mateship) who can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies, sometimes both. The Turks have found this out and the ties between the two countries are so strong that the 2006 ceremony at ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli was actually conducted in English and Turkish with Turkish soldiers taking an active part in the commemoration.
I written a lot but your very simple question has a very complex answer and I've still barely scratched the surface. From the Americans I know here, the nearest you have to it is Veteran's Day but only if you cross that with the nationalism of 4th of July. It is a day to honour our fallen, to celebrate the survival of those who came back and to reflect on the necessity, and futility, of war.