As families consider live streaming options for ANZAC Day services Nine News Regional Queensland Weather Presenter, Nicole Rowles talks about the importance of commemorating Australian and New Zealand soldiers, even while in isolation.
Nicole comes from a lineage of war veterans – her grandfather was one of the iconic Rats of Tobruk and her grandmother also served in World Word II, while her father and uncles were in the Navy Cadets. Annually the Rowles family continue their tradition of attending a Dawn Service to reflect on their family and their sacrifices along with many other Australians. To Nicole, ANZAC Day is not about the glorification of war, but about honouring individual stories like her grandfather's that embody the Aussie spirit, and learning from the actions of people who have come before us.
1. Tell us about some of the stories your grandparents shared from the war?
Nicole Rowles: My granddad fought in World War II. He was stationed in Tobruk in Libya, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Papua New Guinea and in Egypt, where he crossed the Sinai Desert six times, and underwent an appendectomy in Alexandria, surviving the bombing of the hospital ship he was on. He didn't talk much about his experiences; I think back in those days you "just didn't talk about it". One of the stories he did share was his recollection of crossing the Sinai Desert. On that journey, he shared his water rations with his mates.
2. Why do you believe it's important to commemorate soldiers present and past on ANZAC Day each year?
Nicole Rowles: All of my grandparents knew and loved people who gave the ultimate sacrifice in World War II, and it was important to them that those people would be remembered. Now that my grandparents are gone, I feel it's my duty to continue honouring the people they cared about. It's also important to stand with the people who are serving right now. Some are overseas fighting to protect the vulnerable. Some are providing aid to those in need. And some are serving right here in Australia, right now, risking their health for us, during the Coronavirus pandemic. I want them all to know that their community supports them.
3. What have you learnt through the actions of the ANZACs?
Nicole Rowles: My granddad's story about sharing his water with his mates as he crossed the Sinai Desert has always moved me. It's a reminder of the selflessness of our ANZACs; they always looked out for each other. I believe it takes great courage and strength to reach out to others during a tough time, and stories of the mateship of our servicemen and women always inspires me and reminds me that we are stronger together.
4. Why are these characteristics useful to remember now more than ever?
Nicole Rowles: Most of us, thankfully, will never fight a war in our time, but we are all facing our own battle right now. As Australians, we always draw on the spirit of the ANZACs, the spirit of mateship and community, in our country's toughest moments. One thing I believe we can all do to embody that spirit right now is to give back in small ways, by being there for our friends and neighbours when they're struggling.
5. How will you be honouring the ANZACs this year at home?
Nicole Rowles: I'm looking forward to participating in the RSL's "Light Up the Dawn" initiative. I'll be standing on my driveway at 6am, remembering my family members who have served, and thinking of all those who
have served, and are serving at home and abroad. It will be so special to know that I'm standing in solidarity with people across the country, keeping the ANZAC spirit alive.
Nicole Rowles is the Nine News Regional Queensland Weather Presenter, reporting local updates to the Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Wide Bay, Central Queensland, North Queensland and Far North Queensland regions.