#Australians and New Zealanders held dawn #AnzacDay vigils from the isolation of their own driveways on Saturday to honour their armed forces, as parades were cancelled and ceremonies closed to the public due to the #coronavirus.
As the sun rose, #NewZealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was among those observing vigils at the end of their driveways, while Australia’s leader Scott Morrison attended an official Canberra ceremony forced behind closed doors. “This year, a new threat faces all nations as the impact of the coronavirus deepens worldwide,” Ardern said from her driveway.
While at the small Canberra service before dawn — which was broadcast live — Australia’s prime minister Morrison compared the disruption to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1919. “Our Anzac Day traditions have been interrupted but not for the first time,” Morrison said during the ceremony at the Australian War Memorial. “There were no city marches or parades for the returning veterans because Australians were battling the Spanish flu pandemic,” he added. “Though our streets were empty the returning veterans were not forgotten.” As morning light reached Australia, neighbours held candles outside their homes in Sydney’s southwest, where Vietnam veteran Peter McFarlane led a small suburban service, one of the many taking place around the country. “I can’t remember the last time I missed a dawn service, so I had to have one here,” the 78-year-old told AFP outside his Ingleburn home.
He said he was “proud as punch” after the whole street turned out to begin Anzac Day, finishing his early morning memorial with a shot of rum.
While official memorials were held behind closed doors, people reached out to the Returned and Services League (RSL) that represents veterans in Australia to ask how best to mark the day. “People are very, very active,” New South Wales RSL acting president Ray James told AFP, “setting up their driveways with poppies”.
Anzac Day marks the 1915 landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli on the Turkish peninsula in an ill-fated WWI campaign against German-backed Ottoman forces.