SYDNEY - The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Australia and New Zealand to abandon almost all Anzac Day services Saturday. Lockdowns and social distancing regulations have forced many to mark the occasion, a day of remembrance of Australians and New Zealanders who have died in combat, with simple services at home.
“This year we may not stand shoulder-to-shoulder but let us stand together in that spirit at dawn,” said a video by a veterans’ group to mark the occasion.
Under lockdown, many Australians and New Zealanders stood outside their homes to remember the Anzacs, and other servicemen and women.
Marches and parades that would usually attract large crowds were canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
A national service in Canberra was attended by a handful of political leaders and military veterans.
Returned Service Nurse, Wing Commander Sharon Bown, spoke of her great-uncle, who landed at Gallipoli 105 years ago.
“In this time of crisis, let us realize the innate capacity within each of us to do the same. To unite and protect the more vulnerable among us. To realize that the qualities for which we honor the Anzacs live on in each of us; endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humor, mateship and devotion to duty, to each other, to Australia — lest we forget,” Bown said.
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke of her hopes for the future.
“We honor the Anzac commitment and we reflect on our enduring hopes for peace and a world that does not ask for the sacrifice of war, but instead asks for a commitment to empathy, kindness and to our shared humanity. May we remember that as we stand together this Anzac Day,” Ardern said.
Anzac Day commemorates the disastrous landing by the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli in Turkey on April 25, 1915. To many, the courage of those troops under devastating enemy fire helped to forge the identities of both former British colonies.