File size must be less than 2Mb
You must have online publishing permission or full ownership of this image
File types (jpg, png, gif)
21 April 2021
BY DYLAN DE JONG
Wimmera leaders hope a return to traditional Anzac Day services will allow residents across the region to reunite in person to pay their respects.
This year, RSL service clubs across Victoria were uncertain about whether to plan ahead for the day due to ongoing changes to COVID-19 restrictions.
Despite uncertainty, many pushed forward with plans, including service clubs across the Wimmera-Mallee.
Article continues below
Horsham RSL senior president Don Pirouet said it would be ‘crucial’ Wimmera communities had an opportunity to take part in a normal service again after it was missed last year due to the pandemic.
“It’s hard to compare the atmosphere of a traditional Anzac Day to what we did last year,” he said.
Last year, Wimmera residents joined a nation-wide campaign to stand in their driveway while a bugler played the Last Post in major towns and cities.
This year, the Horsham ceremony, the largest in the Wimmera, will be a tier-three event, allowing up to 5000 people to attend.
Mr Pirouet said the capacity of the event would contribute to the Anzac Day atmosphere many people were missing from last year’s virtual commemorations. He said he expected up to 1500 people would attend a dawn service at 6.15am on Sunday.
“To actually have a live event at the cenotaph will be quite surreal,” he said.
“To have the day in a traditional fashion is a rite of passage. To reflect on past events and think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can comfortably live here in Australia is crucial.
“It will be a COVID-safe event with social distancing where possible.
“We promote the use of a mask where social distancing isn’t possible.”
Horsham Mayor Robyn Gulline said the return of traditional commemorative services was timely for Wimmera communities ‘desperate to get back to normal life’ following COVID-19 lockdowns last year.
“I’m very pleased to see it get back to normal so we can acknowledge our returned servicemen and women and the contribution they have made to the society we now live in,” she said.
“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that we must refocus on what’s important.
“Anzac Day is really precious and I think we’ll be surprised to see how many people come out to commemorate the day on Sunday.”
Cr Gulline said the return of physical services would be particularly important for veterans.
“Our veterans, who are in the older age group, would have struggled in the past 12 months with socialisation,” she said.
“To get back together, especially for Anzac Day, is incredibly important.”
The Weekly Advertiser is encouraging people to get involved in the Anzac spirit by displaying poppies.
A poppy features on a double-page lift-out poster in today’s paper, which people can display on their front doors or gates on Anzac Day.
Poppies are widely known to symbolise the sacrifice people have made on battlefields.
1089 3WM will broadcast Horsham Anzac Day services live from Sawyer Park cenotaph from 6am on Sunday.
MIXX FM will not be broadcasting the commemorative service at 11am.
RELATED: 2021 Wimmera Anzac Day service guide
The entire April 21, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!