This Anzac Day Keith Payne VC, and his wife of 65 years, Florence, will mark Anzac Day dawn in quiet reflection at their home, one household in many that will join a national movement of home-based dawn commemoration.
Mr Payne is acutely aware of the risks he faces from coronavirus. At 86 years of age infection could be life-threatening. Many of his mates who served in Vietnam are in the same boat. He and Flo, who is also a veteran, agree the restrictions are needed but they say they will miss the service and the march, but most of all they’ll miss catching up with old mates.
“It is going to be a very different day. For veterans Anzac Day is the most important date of the year. It’s our day to remember that part of our lives that we gave to the service of our country, to remember the mates we made and lost along the way, and to share stories that get bigger and better every year,” Mr Payne said.
“This year it will be me and Flo. Just the two of us together at home, and we’ll honour the memory of those who have served down through the ages and the people we served with. We’ll talk to family during the day and have a beer or two as well, but we’ll miss our Anzac Day and our mates.”
Mr Payne is urging everyone to make an effort on Anzac Day, both to carry on the Anzac tradition and also to show our veterans that people care about and respect service.
“I imagine a veteran looking down their street and seeing families standing there in the dawn will take a bloody big gulp. It’s one thing to see big crowds at the memorials but to see people making this extra effort will be a great thing for veterans.”
“I hope people will get up and be part of this. The positive side of it is it’s not far to go and you’ll get a good possie up front. You can get the kids up 10 minutes beforehand and you don’t have to get the bus in the dark. Why wouldn’t you do it?”
A number of veterans’ charities are coordinating dawn service broadcasts in conjunction with national and local radio stations. Find out about your dawn service options at DiggersTribute.com.au.