Anzac Day has certainly been different the past couple of years.
In 2020 the dawn services usually attended by thousands were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Instead, we stood on our doorsteps and lit a candle.
It was a simple gesture but one that was indicative of our nation’s fighting spirit.
No matter the circumstances, we were always going to find a way to remember those brave men and women who have served – and still do serve – our nation.
Last year services were held in many parts of the state however restrictions on the number of people that could attend were limited – again due to concerns surrounding the pandemic.
This year, however, services will return to normal. While the threat of COVID-19 and the new variants still certainly exist, it will not have a bearing on the numbers of people who attend the dawn services.
Personally, I am excited to once again see a plethora of bleary eyed people rise in the early hours of the morning to pay their respects to those who defended our nation so bravely.
I have been attending ANZAC Day dawn services for as long as I can remember.
From when I was growing up in Dubbo, then as a member of the Australian Regular Army, and now with the privilege of being a member of the NSW Parliament, a veteran and the NSW Shadow Minister for Veterans.
This year, more than ever as we continue to get back to some normality after lockdowns, there must be an emphasis on the words ‘lest we forget’ and ‘we will remember them’.
If future generations do not take the time or the interest to learn about the sacrifices made by those brave men and women who served our nation so proudly, then their stories will be lost forever.
It has been so incredibly pleasing to see the number of people from younger generations attending dawn services in the past 10 years.
In the past two years, it has been near impossible for those young people to experience a dawn service first-hand, through no fault of their own.
That changes on April 25 this year.
I urge every mother and father, brother and sister, grandfather and grandmother to consider taking their child, sibling or grandchild to a service this year.
I feel we all have a responsibility to ensure younger generations have every opportunity to learn the stories of the ANZACs so they can be enriched with the knowledge of this proud Australian time as everyone else has been for generations and to ensure they’re never lost.
Whether you live in Broken Hill or Ballina, Lightening Ridge or Lithgow – I feel we all have a duty to ensure the ANZAC spirit and their stories live on.
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.