Australians across the country gathered in their homes this morning to commemorate Anzac Day 2020, with the Australian War Memorial’s special commemorative service broadcast to the nation.
While the traditional Dawn Service, National Ceremony and veterans’ march did not take place this year, a nationally-televised ceremony was held in the Commemorative Area and Hall of Memory of the Memorial from 5.30 am today. The commemorative service included a moving address from the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, a didgeridoo player and a small catafalque party.
Mr Matt Anderson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, said it was important to give Australians the opportunity to pause safely in their homes and reflect on the service and sacrifices of our defence forces, both past and present.
“In a time of profound change in our lives, we need to embrace some constants. Honouring the ANZACs is something we have done every year, and we are richer for it,” Mr Anderson said.
“On the battlefield at Pozieres in 1916, a mortally wounded Australian asked Australia’s official war correspondent, Charles Bean, ‘Will they remember me in Australia?’ Will they remember me at home? This year, as every year, at home we will remember.
“This year marks the 105th anniversary of Gallipoli landing. More than a century has passed since the first Australians came ashore at Anzac Cove, yet we are so closely connected to them through a long line of servicemen and servicewomen who have followed. The legacy of those who served Australia in the past is carried on by those who continue to serve today,” he said.
Mr Anderson said that while Anzac Day 2020 is in many ways different to recent years, this year’s service was something of a return to early commemorations at the Memorial.
“The first Anzac Day ceremony held at the Memorial was in 1942, with restrictions over large gatherings due to the war. It was a small ceremony held in the Commemorative Area, which had yet to record the 102,000 names in bronze installed along what is now the Roll of Honour,” he said.
“The service held this morning and the grassroots movements to mark Anzac Day across the country – and around the world – demonstrate the resilience and determination of Australians to commemorate despite the challenges we’re facing this year. The fact that Australians chose their own ways to honour our ANZACs, past and present has, I think, added new meaning to the day.
“I would also like to acknowledge the incredible efforts of Memorial staff, and the ABC, to deliver the Anzac Day Commemorative Service. Under unique circumstances, the team has worked with great professionalism to ensure the Australian War Memorial is where it should be; at the centre of the nation’s official commemoration of active service.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is also encouraging Australians to join together by individually commemorating with a personal reflection at 11.30 am AEST – 4.30 am in Gallipoli – a time that broadly represents the landings at Gallipoli at dawn on 25 April 1915.
ABC and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs have produced a video and audio personal reflection piece, to help Australians with their personal reflection at 11.30am. This consists of the Ode, a minute’s silence and the Last Post.
A pre-recorded Last Post Ceremony will be posted to the Memorial’s digital platforms at 4.55 pm this afternoon. The ceremony will feature the story of Private Thomas Anderson Whyte of the 10th Battalion AIF — who was killed during the landing at Gallipoli in 1915 — read by Sergeant Shelby Powell of the Royal Australian Air Force.
A range of content developed by the Memorial to encourage people to commemorate Anzac Day from home is available online at: https://www.awm.gov.au/Anzacathome/Anzactv.