For the first time since 1919, Anzac Day commemorations have been cancelled. Back then, it was the Spanish Flu which forced people to stay home and in 2020 it’s another pandemic that has halted our national day of remembrance.
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, all Anzac Day services and marches in Australia have been called off. Due to the ongoing travel ban, services traditionally held around the world, including at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, will also not go ahead.
Federal Minister for Veterans Affairs and Defence Darren Chester said it was a “regrettable decision”.
“A lot of our veterans are approaching 95 or 100 years of age and we didn’t want to expose them to those conditions,” he said.
It’s been 105 years since young men from Australia and New Zealand stormed the beaches at Gallipoli, and despite changes to this year’s commemorations, their service has not been forgotten.
The national service in Canberra will still go ahead despite being closed to the public and it will still be televised.
An idea that has taken hold on social media has called for Australians to stand at the end of their driveways, or on their balconies or verandahs at 6am on Saturday, 25 April for a minute’s silence.
RSL Queensland state president Tony Ferris said his organisation had endorsed this idea. “We agree it’s a brilliant way to collectively honour the dedication, commitment and sacrifice of our service people,” he said.
Crowds had been growing in recent years at Anzac Day services, with the 9am Sandgate service regularly attracting up to 4000 people.
A post on the Sandgate RSL Sub Branch Facebook page said, “In line with government and the Federal Chief Health Officers’ direction, we regret to inform that the traditional Anzac Day Dawn Service and March in Sandgate are cancelled due to the Coronavirus public health emergency.
“The Sandgate RSL Sub Branch is currently working on alternatives for our members and community to commemorate this important day.”
For more information on alternatives to this year’s Anzac Day services, please see the Sandgate RSL Sub Branch Facebook page or the state RSL website, www.rslqld.org