"At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."
For generations of Australians these words and the bugle call of The Last Post signal the one minute of silence in which a nation collectively bows its head and reflects profoundly on the sacrifice, bravery and the tragedy of those who have fought and died in war.
This year on Anzac Day the silence will last longer than a minute. The rising of the sun will usher in a day of profound silence as the national rituals of marches, services and publicly shared respect are suspended.
We will not gather in numbers to hear The Ode, Reveille and The Last Post, and an extra dimension of sadness and loss will be added to our national day of mourning.
This year, on Anzac Day, the silence will last longer than a minute. The rising of the sun will usher in a day of profound silence as the national rituals of marches, services and publicly shared respect are suspended.
Port Macquarie RSL Sub-Branch president Greg Laird, a Vietnam veteran, said the situation was very sad, and felt for the veterans.
"It's a real blow," Mr Laird said.
Port Macquarie has the largest membership in the country area for RSL sub-branches and still has 20 World War II veterans among its ranks.
"But these fellas aren't going to last much longer, and this could be their last Anzac Day.
"That's the disappointing part," he said.
"A lot of people are frustrated they can't pay their respects, and for the younger ones too, it's an important part of our history.
"I was in touch with the local police superintendent and asked, 'couldn't we just go down to the war memorial and lay a wreath and say The Ode and play the Last Post, and he was very apologetic about it, but he said, 'no, mate, you can't. I'd love to say yes, but that sort of gathering is illegal'."
The Port Macquarie Sub-Branch is encouraging everyone to individually go down to the cenotaph and lay a wreath while observing social distancing."
Mr Laird pointed out there there was an unfortunate loss of social connection due to the circumstances.
"Normally the veterans would go to the Dawn Service if they were able, attend the march, go back to the club, have a couple of rums and swap a few stories, and maybe a few lies."
He said the sub-branch supported the concept of people standing at the end of their driveways or on their balconies to pay their respects at the appropriate time.
"I think it is a wonderful and lovely way to honour Anzac Day," he said.
"The driveway or verandah vigil is just a fantastic concept.
"We would certainly urge people to support the idea," he said.
In Tamworth, Jayne McCarthy, the first female president of the Tamworth RSL Sub-Branch in its 101 year history, said that while the Anzac Day march was a great opportunity for people to pay their respects, for her the Dawn Service was the essence of the day.
"I feel sad that I am not having the opportunity this year to publicly honour those who have made such a sacrifice," Mrs McCarthy said.
"However, what I find interesting is that by not having a conventional Anzac Day it has actually made the day more significant," she said.
"Because we are not doing what we normally do, it has really brought a focus to the day and made us think about what it actually means for all of us.
"We can't have a service, we can't have a march, we can't have our traditional lunches, we can't share a few hundred beers with our mates, we are looking at it this year through a different lens."
Mrs McCarthy said people had been very creative in the way they were choosing to recognise the importance of the day.
"There is the driveway vigil, kids have been making reefs and hanging them on their fences, others have been putting wreaths on their Facebook profiles, which is just lovely," she said.
"The region's Army Reserve unit, the 12/16th Hunter River Lancers are working towards making a welfare call-out on the day to the veterans in this area... which is just a beautiful idea."
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