For the first time in a century, we are unable to commemorate Anzac Day in the usual way.
At cenotaphs in towns and villages across Indi, we cannot gather together to remember those who served Australia in war. And to honour those who lost their lives.
But while the measures to limit the spread of coronavirus keep us apart, on this twenty-fifth day of April we can participate in in a number of ways –
- with Soldier On’s community-driven ‘Driveway at Dawn’ commemoration
- by watching or listening to the Australian War Memorial’s dawn service on the ABC or online
- or by taking a few minutes on our farms, in our gardens and yards, or at home, to remember
In this International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, I also think of the work and dedication of our nursing, medical and hospital staff who are doing so much to protect us at this time. It’s such an extraordinary legacy of service.
In the Great War, almost 60 nurses from the North East – women from Granya to Stanley and Harrietville, from Chiltern to Tarrawingee, Cheshunt, and Mansfield – volunteered to serve. In the Middle East, the Near East and western Europe. Three were awarded the Royal Red Cross for exceptional nursing duty. At least two lost their lives.
In World War II, Caroline Ennis and Dorothy Elms – nurses from Northeast Health Wangaratta who volunteered for the Australian Army Nursing Service and served in Singapore – died in February 1942 after the awful Bangka Strait incident off the coast of Sumatra. One murdered, one missing at sea, presumed drowned.
Australian nurses and medics have served in Korea, Vietnam, Timor Leste, the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan. And they carry on working among asylum seekers and refugees, in bushfire and other disaster zones, and here among us.
I invite you to remember them, too, this Anzac Day.
You can download the free Driveway at Dawn app for iOS phones from Apple or, for android smart phones, from Google.