Anzac Day, 2020, will be commemorated like no other.
There will be no mass dawn service gatherings to attend or poppy street appeals to support.
For the first time, commemorations will take place from the comfort of our homes, alongside loved ones within our bubbles.
“Stay home, save lives” is a phrase New Zealanders have become familiar with since the Government announced a Level 4 nationwide lockdown on March 26, in response to Covid-19.
Since then, the sacrifice soldiers made to leave their homes and families to fight in war has become increasingly clear. Alexandra-Clyde RSA president Debra Warburton said those who went to war had a lot to lose. “We’ve been asked to sit on the couch. These guys had a far greater sacrifice. They didn’t have the comforts of home.”
While the nation prepares to commemorate Anzac Day with a difference, Miss Warburton said the aim was to keep it “as normal as possible, but without a large gathering”.
An official national dawn service will be aired from 6am to 7am. People are encouraged to stand at their letterbox, their front door, in their lounge rooms, on their balconies or in their driveways.
“Wherever you are in the world, stand with us and take a moment to remember our fallen — but please stay within your bubble,” the Returned and Services Association website states.
People should also wear poppies they have at home, including ones they might have made, and veterans should wear their medals, just as they would during any other Anzac Day.
The national service will be aired on Radio NZ National (AM and FM frequencies) and on the internet.
A Central Otago service will follow at 7am on Radio Central, which will feature speakers Miss Warburton, Cromwell College head girl and boy Jordan Paranihi and Ryan Jones and Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan.
Mr Cadogan’s father served in the Pacific during World War 2 at the age of 18.
Mr Cadogan has wondered why his father was never active in the RSA or attended an Anzac Day service with him.
His father grew up “dirt poor” during the Depression on what is now Centennial Ave and was suddenly off to war.
“What a start to life. Is it any wonder he didn’t want to look back?”
However, Mr Cadogan encourages us to — for those who went away and those who stayed behind.
“We look back with pride in the way they stood up to the immense challenges life threw at them so that we could live in the New Zealand they created for us,” Mr Cadogan said.
“We must also look forward as we face our own fears and challenges in the months and years ahead and join together in our determination that the generations that follow us will look back at us with the same gratitude and pride for the New Zealand we leave them, as we do at those who came before us.
“We shall remember them.”