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ANZAC at home: ‘I’ll still do my bit’

08:00am April 23 2020

War veteran Ian Bubb OAM will be "next to his letterbox" at 6am on ANZAC Day to commemorate, and hopes others will too. (Emma Foster)

For almost 50 years, ANZAC Day for Ian Bubb OAM has involved getting up before dawn, getting ready and heading off to honour those lost in battle serving their country.

But this year will be a little different, marking the first time he hasn’t left his home for dawn service.

"I was discharged from the defence force in April ‘71 and went to my first dawn service that month. From then on, I haven't missed a service or march since,” says the Vietnam War veteran.

“We know the reasons why, but it does disappoint me that we can't get together, because ANZAC Day is an institution in Australia.”

But despite the cancellation of all public ANZAC Day services and marches due to the risk of spreading COVID-19, it will not stop Bubb from commemorating, and he’s optimistic others will do the same.

“I'll certainly go out the front of the house and stand at the letterbox at 6am on Saturday morning and do my little bit to remember and commemorate,” he says.

“My hope is that thousands upon thousands of people will do that, still do social distancing, but go out to their balconies, go up their driveways as I will, facing East, and quietly pause to remember those that aren't with us and the struggles that we were in and are in.”

This ANZAC Day will mark the first in almost 50 years Ian Bubb has not left his home for a dawn service. (Emma Foster)  

Bubb says the idea to commemorate ANZAC Day from home at 6am – an initiative known as Light Up The Dawn being promoted by the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) – is a good alternative to the usual ceremonies and an opportunity to educate younger generations. The ABC will also broadcast an ANZAC Day service from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra at 5.30am (AEST) and another from Sydney at 10am, according to the RSL website.

“It’s a good time to explain to the younger ones why they're doing it, and that it is to remember – it’s not a celebration at all – and to hope that we won't have any more conflicts, to impress upon them that war and violence is not the answer to a problem, that education and discussion is a better answer,” Bubb says.

“With me having four grandchildren now, I certainly don't want to see any of them have to go to any sort of war or conflict. That's what I'm always hoping for, that the world will come to realise that we can all live in peace and enjoy life without having armed conflict.”

This year marks another change for Bubb.

Since being appointed president of the Westpac RSL sub-Branch in 1994, he’s led an ANZAC Day commemoration service every year. But Bubb believes this will mark the first in the 92-year history of the corporate sub-Branch, the last remaining in Australia, that it hasn’t gone ahead.

“It’s something that we, especially those in the ex-service community, value and look forward to each year,” says Bubb whose banking career spanned 40 years after he returned to his role in Westpac since being discharged from the army.

“While we can't meet in person this year, it helps knowing that most of us will still do something ourselves, and we can always look forward to the future.”  


Westpac has supported RSL Australia’s #LightUpTheDawn campaign to commemorate this year’s ANZAC Day.

Emma Foster is a freelance writer. Previously, she led Westpac Wire and was a key contributor until December 2022. Prior to joining Westpac in 2013, she spent almost 20 years in corporate affairs and investor relations, primarily in large financial services and consultancy firms, in Australia, UK and Europe. She is also a photographer and podcaster.

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