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The recently released Australian Veterans’ Covenant ends with the phrase: ‘For what they have done, this we will do.

It is a simple exhortation – and a reminder to us all that the freedoms we all enjoy today, have come at an enormous price.

And it’s also a challenge. A challenge to each and every one of us to take action in our local communities to support and care for our military personnel and their families.

As Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, I’m sometimes asked by school children ‘why do so many Australians even bother to get out of bed before dawn on Anzac Day?’

It’s a fair question when you consider, that for many, it’s probably the only sunrise they will see each year.

From Morwell to Mallacoota and Yarram to Omeo.

In our towns, villages and small rural communities Gippslanders will gather in their thousands.

It’s about respect. Respect for the fallen. Respect for their families. Respect for the men and women who continue to serve today and who keep us safe in an ever-changing world.

Whenever I meet our veterans or current serving Australian Defence Force personnel, I have a simple message.

Thank you for your service, and thank you to your families who support you.

Whether you are among the 2000 Australian Defence Force personnel currently deployed around the world or the 54,000 at home in Australia: training, preparing, ensuring you are ready to answer the call if required.

Your service to our nation is deeply respected.

As we pause on Anzac Day for a minute’s silence, we should think about the 102,00 fallen Australians whose names are immortalised on the walls of the Australian War Memorial.

We should think about the many thousands more who have been wounded or hurt during their service in the Australian Defence Force. We should think about those who loved and care for them. And then we should think about those words in the Australian Veterans’ Covenant.

‘For what they have done, this we will do’.

It’s not about getting out of bed early on just one day to attend a Dawn Service.

It’s about honouring the original Anzacs and all those who have served with the way we choose to live our lives every day.

Lest we forget.

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