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A dawn service unique to our time, honouring a spirit of the ages

Opinion

Without the usual fanfare, Queenslanders have the chance to touch the very core of the ANZAC spirit at the end of their driveway, writes RSL Queensland State President Tony Ferris

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The ANZAC spirit was forged 106 years ago on a remote beach, thousands of miles from our own shores, in the half-light of dawn.

When our Diggers landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, driving determinedly forward amid an unrelenting hail of artillery fire, little did they know their bravery, service and sacrifice would shape and define a nation for decades to come.

The history of the ANZACs has become part of the fabric of Australia’s heritage; the legend of our Diggers now part of our nation’s enduring legacy.

Right now, Australia is facing an unprecedented challenge, and the qualities evoked by our ANZAC spirit – ingenuity, humour, endurance, courage and mateship – have become more important than ever.

This year, traditional ANZAC Day commemorations across the country have been cancelled as Australians and New Zealanders are called again to action, this time in a fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will not see crowds of well-wishers lining streets to honour our veterans as they march in parades across the nation; we will not see young children wearing their parents’, grandfathers’ and great-grandfathers’ medals; we will not see veterans at Dawn Services remembering their fallen mates.

When the ANZACs set out on what would become a brutal eight-month military campaign, they did not know what lay before them; neither do we know what our future holds.

But we can draw strength from the ANZAC spirit’s quality of endurance to now stand strong and united in the face of uncertainty.

And we can look to its quality of ingenuity to find powerful and creative ways to honour the service and sacrifices of our Defence family, current and former serving.

I call on all Australians to safely commemorate ANZAC Day by standing at the end of their driveway or on a balcony at 6am and observing a minute’s silence.

This is a Dawn Service unique to our time, an intimate reflection conducted on a mass scale that unites us all in the ANZAC spirit.

This is an idea grounded in mateship, proposed by Australians and driven by a surge of community support and the momentum generated across social media.

Veterans, their families and members of the public are united by our desire to honour our ANZACs and their powerful legacy; to come together in spirit, even while standing apart.

RSL Queensland will stand behind the tens of thousands of Australians who have already pledged to collectively honour the dedication, commitment and sacrifice of our service people.

We have stood shoulder to shoulder with our Defence family since World War I and, while this current COVID-19 crisis is testing our patience, our good humour and our resilience, it will never dent our commitment or determination.

Far too many veterans have already isolated themselves because of the mental, emotional and physical toll their service has taken.

Regardless of the form this year’s ANZAC Day commemorations take, let’s light up the dawn to show that Australians will always remember those who have served and sacrificed for this nation.

Lest we forget.

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