The Dawn Service at Thompson Beach holds an important place in the minds and hearts of the locals and neighbours. But this year we are prevented from gathering together to demonstrate our respect for those that have served and sacrificed for our country – more specifically, for each of us.
But it is not the first time.
Wikipedia tells us “Australian troops did not return to great victory parades at the end of WW1. This was partly because their arrival home depended on available shipping, but also because of the influenza epidemic of 1919, which prevented people assembling in large numbers. The 1919 Sydney parade was cancelled as a result, but a public commemorative service was held in the Domain, where participants were required to wear masks and stand three feet apart.”
It was estimated that about 500 million people, one-third of the world’s population, became infected with the “Spanish Flu”, resulting in deaths totaling 50 million. There was no vaccine, no antibiotics to treat secondary infections and the only control efforts were limited to isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants and limitations on public gatherings.
So here we are, 100 years later, governed by the same control efforts trying to keep us safe.
We can acknowledge respect for our heroes by “standing to” in our driveways at the break of dawn or attaching something red to our letterbox to visually mark our observation of the day of remembrance.