BCA News: Fall 2020
Virtual ANZAC Day Service
Covid - 19 has hit us all hard. In Australia the imposed restrictions by state and federal governments have imposed have had to be severe to try to curb the virus. For all of us, this meant we had to think outside the square and do things differently.
Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital was built for returned WWII soldiers. Robert Winther, Veteran Liaison Officer usually conducts three major veteran commemorative services a year, at the hospital. Alas, this year that will not be the case.
Gale Spring, FBPA and I generally document these services at the hospital for the Veteran Liaison Department and our veterans. This year we couldn't hold a public service for ANZAC day and as it turns out we won't be holding one for Vietnam Veterans day or Remembrance Day either. The term 'ANZAC's' originally referred to WWI soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. An annual service ANZAC Day is held around Australia to honour those veterans who served and made the ultimate sacrifice.
As ANZAC day approached in mid-March 2020, it became clear that our service wouldn't be held. We had all been holding out hope that restrictions would be eased, and the service could be held. These commemorative services mean so much to our veteran community. Gale and I decided to create a virtual service for our veterans so they could watch it and remember their mates.
We have photographs of these services spanning over almost 30 years. After going through our photographic archives, we selected many images to recreate the feel of the service.
The challenge was to create the essence of the service which incorporates the ode and the minute of silence to remember the fallen. We needed a narration for the virtual service. It was obvious that Gales' and my voice would not be appropriate. For authenticity we needed a veterans' voice, but we were all in lockdown. I called a Veteran who normally recites the ode at our services and, with some coaching over the phone, he recorded his voice and sent it to me via email. We put the images, his voice and some appropriate music together to create the closest match to a real service that we could.
We were happy with the result as it helped ease the difficulty held by many vets in not being able to attend this important event. We managed to create the right mix of the sombre and respectful nature of the service but also the uplifting feeling that is also present at the commemorative event. The service was made available to all via the hospitals, Austin Health YouTube channel. View the virtual service on YouTube.
On the day of the scheduled service, a wreath was still laid at the flagpole and the flag lowered to half-mast in honour of those who served. There were only a few people present as per regulations, not the usual 500 plus people. Social distancing was practised, it was very odd but still special.
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