Earlier this week, I spoke on the phone to two members of the Australian Defence Force about Anzac Day.
I spoke to a Reservist from Brisbane who served as an ICU nurse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a soldier from Adelaide who served in Afghanistan. Both continue to serve today.
As I listened to them share with me details of their service, I was struck by their humility, their values and their practical Australian patriotism.
In their stories, I could hear a deep love of our country, our way of life and our people.
This Anzac Day, Australia faces the most difficult circumstances since the Second World War. The circumstances before us cause us to look to past generations and ask "how did they do it?".
Across Australia, there are hundreds of thousands of veterans and servicemen and women who have sacrificed much for our country - and along the walls of the Australian War Memorial are the names of 102,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
This year, Anzac Day has a poignancy that will cause most Australians to pause and reflect. As well, our veterans and service personnel won't be able to gather and renew the bonds between them all.
While war and pandemic are very different, they both require enormous sacrifices of citizens.
This Anzac Day, Australia faces the most difficult circumstances since the Second World War. The circumstances before us cause us to look to past generations and ask "how did they do it?" and "what can we learn from them for our own times?"
We find the answer in the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women and the values that underpinned their actions.
They understand that patriotism is an expression of our love of family, love of community and love of country.
This love expresses itself through courage, sacrifice and selflessness; and is underpinned by stoicism, service, generosity and unwavering loyalty to each other.
Combined, these values have resulted in so many Australians doing extraordinary things.
That is what we honour today.
The values that protected Australia throughout the past, still protect us to this day.
I believe that Australian heroes still walk among us. And the values that defined us in past times are just as much a part of us today - and we will need to rely on them in the coming weeks, months and years.
With our traditions interrupted this year, we all have a duty to reach out to our veterans and servicemen and women today.
Today will be a hard day for many veterans.
Normally, Anzac Day is a day for our veterans to gather. For many, it is the central point of their calendar.
For our veterans, Anzac Day is a time to laugh, have a drink, remember, share memories and remember comrades.
It's a powerful way our veterans support each other.
So if you know a veteran, please call them and check in on them.
Whilst this Anzac Day might feel different, the truth is, it's not the first time Australia has adjusted Anzac Day to meet threats.
When the first Anzacs returned at the end of the First World War, their very first Anzac Day at home coincided with the outbreak of the Spanish Flu here in Australia.
It is estimated that pandemic affected almost 40 per cent of the population in Australia and took 15,000 lives.
So in 1919, there were no citywide Anzac Day parades or marches for the veterans who won a great war. That year, they defended Australia by staying at home.
Again, during the Second World War, there were times when gatherings were curtailed and memorials closed because of the fear of Japanese bombing raids.
In those years, Australians weren't forgetting their history, they were in fact living the lessons of Anzac. On those Anzac Days everyone was very much in the fight: defending Australia, defending lives, defending our way of life.
That is what we are doing this year.
Though we must all stay physically apart this year, the Australian people are united by the same love of country, neighbour and family that has inspired generations of veterans.
This year, the lesson of Anzac Day is that when Australians support each other, as they have in generations past, we can withstand any hardship and overcome any enemy, including this virus that threatens us today.
Today we thank all our veterans for their service and for the example they have given us to follow.
Lest we forget.
- Scott Morrison is Prime Minister of Australia
- Coverage of the Anzac Day 2020 official commemorations will be broadcast on the ABC from 5am, ahead of the official ceremony beginning at 5.30am. Further details at www.awm.gov.au.