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Tomorrow is Anzac Day, one of Australia’s most solemn and important national events and this year, with dawn services and marches cancelled due to coronavirus, Aussies are preparing to commemorate from their homes.
Yeah, I think it is the most important day on the calendar. For more we are joined by Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, veteran Damien Thomlinson and Legacy CEO Brendan Cox. Thank you all for your time today. Minister, you spent 29 years in the Army Reserves. How important is it that Anzac Day is not simply forgotten during this health crisis?
Good Morning Karl and good morning to your viewers. Anzac Day is such an important day for all Australians and this year, while we will be commemorating the service of over two million Australians who served our nation in uniform and also the over 100,000 who lost their lives, in the great Aussie spirit of ingenuity we are celebrating the day and commemorating their service. So I’ll be cooking Anzac biccies at home, my second time ever, and watching the service on TV. So we’re finding new ways to commemorate their service.
Well it will be a little bit different for you this year, Linda, because I know you are meant to be in France representing Australia at dawn services there, and it’s probably a good time to point out too that many of our troops still are abroad. How will they be commemorating this year?
That’s a great point. We will still have many thousands of servicemen and women who are serving our nation overseas in the Middle East, on ships around the world, but also we’ve got 2,200 service men and women who are serving on what we call Operation COVID-19 ASSIST. So they will also be away from their families, both overseas and here in Australia. But again, like everybody else, they’re having services, scaled down services, at our main base in the Middle East. On HMAS Toowoomba, they’re having a socially distanced ceremony on the flight deck so they are also taking time out to commemorate the service of their mates and also their families.
If I could make this point, and I know Brendan’s there from Legacy, is the families also serve and sacrifice. Our men and women in uniform, they voluntarily enlist but their family members are conscripts along with them. So today, and also tomorrow for Anzac Day, I’m going to be thinking very specially to the families and talking to them to make sure that we say thank you for your service and for making their service possible.