Australia Honours Veterans and Service Members Differently on Anzac Day Amid Restrictions on Gatherings

By Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson
Caden Pearson is a reporter based in Australia. Contact him on
April 25, 2020Updated: April 25, 2020

Australians participated separately—but together in spirit—to mark Anzac Day on April 25, one of the most important national occasions that honours veterans and service members.

In the early morning of the Australian national holiday, people participated in a dawn time vigil in driveways across the country amid government restrictions on gatherings due to the global CCP virus pandemic.

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Melbourne on April 19, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

The hashtags #AnzacAtHome and #AnzacDay were frequently used on Twitter by those who participated in the event.

Channel 9 sports presenter Erin Molan posted a photo on the social media network of her neighbour participating in the dawn vigil.

Proud father Dan Sandiford shared photos of his son, an Air Force cadet, as they observed the dawn vigil outside their home whilst his daughter played “The Last Post” on her violin for the neighbourhood.

He wrote, “#Quarantine didn’t stop us from commemorating our fallen #soldiers on #AnzacDay.”

“For us, it was a #poignant connection to our #fallenheroes who fought for our freedom,” he added in a second message.

Anzac Day Origins, Commemorations

The word Anzac is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. In 1915, after World War 1 broke out, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed an expedition to capture the coast of Gallipoli, Turkey. The joint forces landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and the day has been marked annually since then.

The first organised Anzac Day dawn vigil is thought to have formally begun in 1928, a year after a group of returned servicemen came across and joined an elderly woman to lay flowers on what later became the Sydney Cenotaph, according to the Australian War Memorial.

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A man stands in respect in front of The Cenotaph monument at Martin Place during the lockdown in Sydney on April 25, 2020. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)

Anzac day is traditionally commemorated with a dawn service held during the time of the original Gallipoli landing, as well as ceremonies and parades throughout the day. But “this year it will look a little different,” the Australian War Memorial noted.

This year, the National Ceremony, a commemorative service during Anzac day, was a smaller affair held on Saturday morning, April 25, at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Usually, the day includes a veteran’s march, a commemorative address, laying of the wreaths, hymns, and a bugle call of “The Last Post” which is followed by observing a minute’s silence, as well as the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand.

The Royal Australian Navy shared on Twitter a video of the Warrant Officer of the Navy reading the poem “The Ode,” which was followed by the sound of a bugle playing “The Last Post,” to commemorate soldiers who died at war.

“The Ode” is taken from a section of “For the Fallen,” a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon which was published in 1914. Health minister Greg Hunt shared “The Ode” on Twitter on Saturday morning.

The Australian War Memorial called on Australians to commemorate Anzac Day from home. The group on Twitter posted a link to its website to provide people with tips on activities they can do with their family and friends.