Honouring soldiers from the end of the driveway
NAVY veteran Bill Rose has attended the Anzac Day services in the Whitsundays for two decades.
But this year, he will only go as far as the end of his driveway to honour those he fought alongside.
As the deputy vice-president of the Airlie Beach Whitsunday RSL sub-branch, Mr Rose is among several other veterans who will feature in a virtual Anzac Day service.
The service has been filmed by Whitsunday Regional Council to take the place of the usual ceremony, which was cancelled due to coronavirus.
While he was disappointed the traditional service was cancelled, Mr Rose said it was important the community continue to honour those who lost their lives fighting for Australia.
“It is sad and it will leave a bit of a hole but with people doing the service on their driveways, their neighbours are just across the road or beside you and it’s just like having the whole town as a crowd only spread out,” he said.
“Strangely enough, going to war sounds exciting and romantic and all that sort of stuff, but there’s a lot that haven’t come back and they were the ones who did what they were asked to do and did it to the best of their ability and looked after their mates.
“Come and support Anzac Day, be up at six in the morning and get out on the driveway.”
Mr Rose had 27 postings during his navy career, including service in Malaya in 1959, and said he stumbled upon the navy by accident.
“I was just a farm kid during a huge drought in 1955 … when I was 17 the drought broke and we decided, a group of us young jackaroos, that we would come up here to North Queensland and either go fishing or cane cutting.
“On the way through Lismore at the government employment agency there was a sign on the wall that said ‘Join the navy’.
“I thought ‘I haven’t done that yet. Looks like a good idea!’ So I joined up and we signed on in Brisbane.”
He continued to serve until 1996 after more than three decades in the navy.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said it was stories like Mr Rose’s that were important to remember and encouraged residents to line their driveways at dawn this Anzac Day.
“Anzac Day to me is one of the most important in the year’s calendar, but this day will be like no other,” he said.
“At six in the morning, pause and either go out to your driveway or stand on your balcony or patio and have a little bit of time to reflect on what these fine men and women have done for our country.
“I think we need to think about celebrating our freedom and what they’ve fought for and celebrate the fact that even in these difficult times of COVID-19 we still have the best country in the world.”
The council’s virtual service will be available online on Friday night so residents can watch it as part of their personal commemoration on Saturday.
Mayor Willcox urged people who were honouring the Anzacs from their driveway to ensure they still observed social distancing and for anyone who was feeling unwell to stay inside.
“We don’t want to undo the good work that this community has achieved,” he said.
“We’ve had no community transmission of COVID-19 to date and I want to keep it like this.”
Mayor Willcox looked forward to returning to a traditional service next year, but in the meantime hoped Whitsunday residents would pay their respects in a safe way next weekend