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Australian athletes come together to commemorate ANZAC Day

24 April 2020

ANZAC Day celebrations across Australia will look very different this year, with restrictions around public events and COVID-19 safety measures preventing Australian from gathering and attending the traditional Dawn Services and memorials.

Australian athletes will unite to commemorate the ANZAC spirit, supporting the #LightUpTheDawn campaign launched by the RSL. Many of our athletes will show their support by standing in their driveways or on their balconies for a minute of silence at dawn, and encourage all Australians to do the same and come together as a virtual community to honour the ANZACs' memory.

Marking ANZAC Day has a particular significance for some of the athletes participating in the initiative.

Astin Darcy, a member of the Australian Archery team, is a current serving member of the Australian Army, now in his 12th year of service. For him, commemorating ANZAC Day means celebrating the ANZAC spirit and its five key characteristics of endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour and mateship. "I would usually commemorate ANZAC Day by attending the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial, but this year I will be marking it at home. I will be holding a candle at dawn from my apartment balcony, and watch the broadcast of the national service on TV," says Astin.

Many of our elite athletes come from families with strong connections to the military, like trampoline gymnast Eva Kierath, whose two older brothers have been part of the Australian armed forces. For her, taking part in the initiative is a way to pay respect to the people who serve and represent our country, and remember the ones who sacrificed for it.

Olympic snowboarder Adam Lambert's family also has a long history of commitment and service. "My great grandfather served in World War 2 as an aircraft mechanic, as did my grandfather in Malaysia during high-tension periods between Malaysia and Indonesia, where paratroopers were dropped as a detecting force. My great grandmother was a spy for the Australian intelligence during World War 2, when her role was to intercept and decode messages from the Axis powers. And another great grandfather unfortunately passed away in action during World War 2," says Adam.

"I would like to say to all the veterans and Defence Force personnel that you have done or are doing a job that precious few are willing to do, putting your lives on the line to defend our nation, and oftentimes other nations as well. I think I speak for all Australians when I say thank you for all that you have done, and thank you for all that you may do in the future," he adds.

For Sergeant Garry Robinson GSM, a retired Special Forces Sniper Team Commander and member of the Australian Para Archery team, ANZAC Day is also a day to remember those who are no longer with us.  "I served in the Australian Army from 1994 to 2016. To me, ANZAC day is a day to think and reflect about those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country. It is a day to remember not only older servicemen, but also my Army mates that have lost their lives."

From him and all Australian athletes comes an invitation to not be discouraged by the current circumstances and still find a way to honour the ANZACs. "This year I won't be able to attend the Dawn Service at my old unit at Holsworthy, nor attend my local ANZAC Day March in Camden. But I will still be paying my respects, with my family, standing at the end of my driveway. I hope to see people doing the same, standing together to pay our respect to veterans past and present", says Sergeant Robinson.

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