A 98-year-old war veteran rode atop a Vietnam War-era jeep, while socially distanced residents looked on, as part of a moving ANZAC Day dawn service with a difference at a South Australian retirement village.
The service took place at Living Choice Woodcroft, south of Adelaide.
Alice Conway, the Residents’ Committee Chairperson at Woodcroft, tells the story from here:
"At Living Choice Woodcroft, we made sure that we did not forget.
"While we could not hold our usual ANZAC Day service, we put our heads together and came up with a unique service for all our residents to participate in and honour all those who have fought and died in all the wars.
"The day started with many residents getting up in the early hours of the morning, to stand out on their driveways, balconies or patios, holding their candles, while they watched the glorious sky of the rising dawn, that seemed to be as red as the poppy fields of Flanders.
The solemn silence was made more poignant by the social distancing that was required.
"At 10am, our village "parade" began.
"Keith Thomson, with his wife Vivienne as navigator, brought his Vietnam-era jeep for the special day.
"It proudly flew the Australian flag atop a 15-foot aerial, had a wreath on the front grill and the Rising Sun emblem on both doors.
"Riding, standing up in the back all the way, was our own WW2 veteran, Fred Walker.
"He will be 99 on 1st May and ANZAC Day means a lot to him.
"Music from the era was arranged by Doug Tilley and played loudly as the jeep drove around all the streets of the village, alerting all residents of our coming.
"Social Club members, too many to name, had made packets of ANZAC biscuits and sprigs of Rosemary tied with a red ribbon, to be given to each and every resident as the parade went past, following the jeep, with its flag fluttering on high, and Fred waving to all.
"It was so moving to see all the residents standing out waiting for us to come.
"Most moving of all, was to see that so many had photos and medals of their forebears who had gone into battle so long ago, on display.
"What a wonderful way to honour them on this, their special day.
"At the end of our journey around the village, our Poppy Cross, topped with a slouch hat, was brought out into the forecourt of the Leisure Centre.
"A number of residents came to hear the final part of our service but numbers were low due to social distancing restrictions.
"Here we had our Father Ed read the Ode of Remembrance.
"The Last Post was then played, then a minute silence followed by the Rouse and ending with Father Ed giving us all his blessing.
"Having removed the wreath from the front grill of the jeep, Fred Walker had the honour of placing it at the foot of the Poppy Cross when it was returned to its place in the Leisure Centre Foyer.
"We honoured the sacrifice of those who have given their all so that we could live in this wonderful country, as free as we do. We did not forget."