Elderly Australian man marches alone to commemorate fallen military comrades after event canceled due to Covid-19 curbs (VIDEO)
A former service member was filmed marching down a road in Perth in defiance of the lockdown restrictions that had prevented Anzac Day celebrations. The one-man protest caught the attention of local media and of Twitter users.
With the help of a walking aid, Michael Darby slowly made his way down an avenue in the Western Australian capital on Sunday. Signs attached to his chest and back read: “Honour the fallen.” He also wore several military decorations.
One veteran breaks all of Perth’s lockdown rules and walks the ANZAC march with a sign saying “Honour the fallen”.He's my hero!#convid19#melbournelockdown#melbourne#victoria#perthlockdown#perthpic.twitter.com/F3OBDcNywz— Joe 🇦🇺 (@Joe460) April 26, 2021
The gesture was meant to mark Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates those who served and died in wars. Perth had cancelled an event to mark the occasion after the city went into a snap three-day lockdown on Friday.
Local media soon picked up on the one-man march, with one daily, the West Australian, hailing Darby as a “lone hero.” The paper said that images of the man walking alone captured “the complexity of our feelings towards lockdown.” Police officers assisted Darby with his march and even organized an impromptu guard of honor, the outlet reported.
Poignant image on page 1 of tomorrow's The West Australian pic.twitter.com/QA9tLIcR66— Anthony De Ceglie (@AnthDeCeglie) April 25, 2021
Darby, a former staffer for the right-wing One Nation party, served as an army officer for eight years from 1966 to 1974 but did not see combat. He said in an interview that he was marching to protest the lockdown restrictions, noting that Anzac Day provided much-needed social contact for many veterans.
“Those chaps and ladies too are bleeding because for two years in succession they haven’t had their Anzac Day,” he said. The event was also canceled last year due to coronavirus restrictions.
This made me cry for all the veterans who could not participate this year 😢— Little Bird 🦉 🇦🇺 (@rosieAvril) April 26, 2021
He criticized the government’s order to shut down the march, saying that the organizers of the event, the Returned and Services League (RSL), a veterans group, should have been allowed to decide for itself whether to go forward with the march.
“Somebody had to make the point that it is not the function of government to tell the RSL how, or where, or when they should be commemorating Anzac Day,” Darby argued.
Many Australians seemed genuinely touched by Darby’s lone march, but others accused him of stolen valor, noting that he had never actually fought in a war. Darby himself acknowledged that he was never in a war but has “known many veterans.”
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