Time for reflection
Wednesday, 28th April, 2021
By Neil Pigot
As a lone aircraft tracked above Argent Street at dawn on Sunday, Broken Hill veterans gathered in-person for the first time in two years to pay tribute to fallen comrades. They were joined at the cenotaph by a diverse crowd who were encouraged to reflect on the actions of the more than 100,000 Australians who, since that fateful day at Gallipoli 106 years ago, have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the nation.
Speaking as guest of honour at both the dawn service and again at 11am, serving Naval Captain Adam Muckalt reiterated the point, reminding the crowd that while we “pause to commemorate the Anniversary of the landings on Gallipoli in 1915”, we must also take time to reflect on the commitment and sacrifice of the living, the men and women who have followed those original ANZAC’s in service of the nation, both “in war and in peace”. And those that continue to do so.
With last year’s ANZAC Day marked by Australians standing in their driveways, lighting a candle at dawn amid COVID-19 restrictions, Broken Hill RSL President Des Kennedy said it was “really great to be back” and was “thrilled” with the strong turnout.
“It was magic. Great weather, great numbers at both services. You couldn’t ask for more.”
But COVID safe measures at many other services around the country left some feeling disconnected, the differences in rules at various events leading to anger and confusion.
A wire fence was set up around Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance for the dawn service limiting attendance to just 1400 people which infuriated some given 85,000 were permitted to gather at the MCG for the traditional ANZAC Day AFL match between Collingwood and Essendon.
While at the War Memorial in Canberra, over 6,500 people attended the dawn service and similar numbers were seen at the national ceremony held at 11am. Memorial Director Matt Anderson said the commemorative events were a strong indication of the continued dedication the Australian people have to the traditions of ANZAC Day.
“To welcome, in the midst of a global pandemic, thousands of veterans, defence force personnel, their families, members of the public and dignitaries across both the dawn service and national ceremony here at the Australian War Memorial is a powerful reminder of what matters to us as a nation,” Mr Anderson said.
A view, it seems, is shared by many in Broken Hill.