How to commemorate Anzac Day at home

Living Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 23 April 2020

12 ways to commemorate Anzac Day at home in 2020.

Victorians will come together but remain apart to honour our armed services personnel this Saturday as people light candles in their driveways for the traditional dawn service, a nationwide orchestra plays the Last Post, and diggers ‘meet up’ on WhatsApp.

Tealight candles

For the first time since 1919, when Anzac Day services were suspended due to the outbreak of the Spanish flu, Victorians will not be able to attend any Anzac Day celebrations on 25 April.

Instead of the usual dawn service, Anzac march, two-up games and inevitable pub sessions, people will use social media, apps, phone calls, emails and a dose of ingenuity to continue the tradition of honouring Australia’s returned servicemen and women and the more than 102,000 who have died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. 

The most important thing is that together we remember our pledge as a nation, lest we forget.

“Anzac Day 2020 will not look like the Anzac Day that so many of us are used to participating in,” says Victorian RSL president Dr Robert Webster. “There will be a service, wreaths will be laid, the Last Post will still be played, a minute of silence in memory of the fallen will be observed, but the public will be asked to stay at home.

“The RSL is asking that instead you tune in via radio, social media or television and take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our veterans and those who are still serving today. The most important thing is that together we remember our pledge as a nation, lest we forget.”

Red poppy of black background
Person holding tealight candle

How to celebrate Anzac Day at home 

Virtual Dawn Service  

The Australian Defence Department has called on all Australians to #StandAtDawn and watch the live telecast of the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial, in Canberra. 

The service, which includes the Last Post and a minute’s silence, will be held in the memorial’s commemorative area and hall of memory, and streamed live on ABC TV and iView, Facebook and YouTube. The broadcast starts at 5am on Saturday, with the service starting at 5.30am.  

Immediately after the Canberra service, the Victorian RSL and Shrine of Remembrance websites will stream a local Victorian service. At 6am Victoria’s governor, Linda Dessau, will lay a wreath at the Shrine, followed by a pre-recorded dawn service, filmed with individual veterans attending the shrine over the past few weeks. The service, which will run for about 18 minutes, will also be covered by ABC Radio and TV. 

DIY in the driveway  

The national Light Up the Dawn campaign, endorsed by the RSL, asks all Australians to step outside at 6am on Anzac Day and observe a minute’s silence from their yard, driveway or balcony, as a sign of respect for Australia’s veterans and current service personnel. “Australians are encouraged to take a candle, a torch or phone with them, to help light up the dawn and to celebrate that Anzac spirit,” says the RSL’s Robert Webster. 

Play the Last Post 

Musically inclined Australians are being urged to pick up their instruments and play along with the Last Post as it is live streamed from the Australian War Memorial just before 6am on Saturday. The brainchild of Brisbane music teacher and trumpet player Alastair Tomkins, music4mateship encourages musicians to download the music for the Last Post and Reveille for their particular instrument from, get practising and then be out on the driveway early Saturday morning ready to start playing the Last Post just before 6am. After a minute’s silence, the nationwide driveway orchestra will play Reveille. As well as music for a range of instruments (not just brass) the website also has a form letter to download and give to the neighbours warning them to expect some early-morning music. Among those participating will be legendary jazz trumpeter James Morrison, who is anticipating “the feeling that it’s going to create in communities around the country when people hear that song on that morning, and know we are celebrating Anzac Day as we always do, to remember our Anzacs who fought in all the wars”. 

Take a selfie 

Victorians are also encouraged to take a photo of themselves while they commemorate Anzac Day and share it on RSL’s Facebook page using the hashtag #STANDTO. In the Australian Defence Force, “stand to” refers to a state of readiness for attack assumed by ground troops at dawn and dusk during wartime.  

Reflect on history 

For those less inclined to rise before dawn, the ABC will stream a ‘reflection’ video at 11.30am on Saturday across TV, iView, radio and online, or you can download the network’s app. This reflection includes The Ode and Last Post, followed by a one-minute silence to mark when the first Australian troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April, 1915. 

Buy a badge  

It won’t arrive until after Anzac Day but you can buy a badge, lapel pin and more from the Australian War Memorial online shop. Badges include Spitfires, Iroquois helicopters and light horsemen while poppies come in many forms from jewellery to car decorations. There are soldier figurines, Lone Pine seedlings and you can shop based on the war or conflict. You can also buy Anzac Appeal merchandise from Woolworths in store or online until 28 April. Choose from a $3 wristband, $5 lapel pin or $10 lapel pin with all proceeds going to support the RSL. 

Make a donation 

While there are no volunteers on the streets selling badges and poppies, the RSL’s biggest fundraiser, the Anzac Appeal, is still in full swing online. State president Robert Webster says COVID-19 has only increased the need to support veterans and their families. “Many of our veterans will be doing it especially tough,” he says. “Some will be struggling with social isolation, physical and mental health problems. The longer this pandemic goes on, the more acute the needs of our veterans become.” 

Post a tribute 

Justin Wilbur, a Ballarat man whose father was a Vietnam veteran and is credited with starting the driveway dawn service movement, has created the Facebook group Aussies & Kiwis for Anzacs. Mid-week it had more than 225,000 members from around the globe, including veterans posting about their experiences, and parents are using it to teach their children about the Anzac spirit. 

Listen up 

The Aussies & Kiwis for Anzacs Facebook group is hosting a livestreamed YouTube event called 105 Songs for 105 Years in collaboration with the OZY Youth Choir Honouring Defence Service. 

The concert starts at 1pm on Anzac Day with a commemorative service run by young people followed by 105 songs for each of the 105 years since Anzac forces landed on the beach at Gallipoli. The line-up includes Shannon Noll’s new Anzac Day release as well as Amber Lawrence, The Wolfe Brothers, Luke O’Shea, Simply Bushed and Damien Leith. 

You can access it through the group’s apps, which are available from the App Store and Google Play.

An Anzac message 

Australia’s Governor-General, David Hurley, will broadcast his Anzac Day message on ABC TV and Radio at 6.55pm. 

Keep connected 

Zoom, Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp and more – technology is helping people connect when they can’t get together in person this Anzac Day. Vietnam veteran and RSL Cranbourne/Dandenong branch president John Welling says people can connect with something as simple as a telephone. “It’s letting your mates know you’re still there for them,” he says. He’s “meeting” up with a few digger mates using WhatsApp.

Tune in to a tribute concert

Some of the biggest stars in the Australian and New Zealand music industry, including Jimmy Barnes, Delta Goodrem, Paul Kelly and The Wiggles, will perform in a televised ANZAC Day tribute show. The artists will record their segments at home and the footage will be edited together to produce Music From The Home Front and screened on ANZAC Day at 7.30pm on Channel Nine. It’s the brainchild of music industry guru Michael Gudinski with help from legendary Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes and is a tribute not only to the military but to frontline COVID-19 health care workers and other essential workers, including supermarket shelf stackers.