Every year in Australia and New Zealand, on April 25th, soldiers and their families take part in ANZAC Day. This day is a commemoration of all the lives lost by the nationals of the two nations in the various wars that have taken place since the First World War. It is a matter of immense honor and pride for veterans to take part in the parades on ANZAC Day. However, those vets who haven’t been lucky enough to come back from war in good shape, and are now in wheelchairs, wonder when they will get their due turn to take part in the parade.
Wheelchairs Causing a Hindrance
A number of veterans who take part in the parade have mobility issues, either due to old age or due to injuries sustained during battle. Therefore, they attend the event in their wheelchairs, sometimes accompanied by a loved one. However, they are not allowed by the authorities to take part in the actual activities of the day, as Allen Moore learned in these past two years.
Moore arrived at the Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph accompanied by his grandson, Gareth Moore, as well as two other family members. Before commencement, he was informed by the authorities that he, along with five other veterans in wheelchairs, could not take part in the parade because they would “slow down” the proceedings. Some other health and security concerns were also put forth as the reasons for this decision.
When asked when wheelchair vets will get their due, the Auckland Returned and Services Association told the families that they had assigned positions of prominence for veterans in wheelchairs, directly at the Cenotaph, whilst maintaining that they had not completely banned wheelchairs from the event. They also promised to look into the idea of participation for such veterans at the parades in future years.
However, Gareth says that the same promises were made to their family and others last year. He describes how he was appalled and shocked at the treatment of his grandfather, but was comforted by the promises made by the organizers. Therefore, the organizers’ failure to keep their word has left him disappointed. When Gareth argued his grandfather’s case with the authorities, he was told that the reason for not letting his grandfather join the parade was because his wheelchair would slow things down.
Looking Forward to Next Year
Graham Gibson, President of the Auckland Returned and Services Association, says that this measure was put forward only with the best interests of the veterans in mind, for the road leading up to the Cenotaph is not safe for wheelchairs to travel on. He says that it would also affect the safety of those participating in the parade as it is bound to disturb the normal speed of things. Answering queries regarding vets with mobility issues getting their due, Gibson stated that he would make sure Allen Moore could take part in the parade the following year in March, as well as ensuring that all health and safety measures for his presence will be met.