Learning to work together when circumstances are out of one's control is the lesson that veterans and good friends Lionel Davidson and Jack Monaghan wish to impart on Anzac Day.
The men, 89 and 95, respectively, served during different times and units but established a strong bond when they met at RSL LifeCare in Lyneham.
They say the periods they lived through and the experiences of service have helped them stay strong during the COVID pandemic - lessons they say is more relevant than ever as the ever-changing coronavirus dictates the world.
We did our best then and we're doing our best now.WWII veteran Frank Bolton
Mr Davidson was conscripted into the National Service Scheme in 1951, spent three months in training at Holsworthy then served two years in the citizen military forces before five years on the active reserves.
During the peak of the lockdown in 2020, having more stringent directions regarding hygiene, when and where you can go and being told how to do things brought back his resilience and adaptability developed during service.
"The biggest lesson I learnt was to get on with other people and work together," Mr Davidson said.
"There were 12 to a tent. You put 18-year-olds in a tent who don't know each other, you've got to get on together."
The sudden change in daily living to adhere to COVID restrictions, as well as not having contact with the outside world, were akin to finding your feet when entering the defence force, Mr Davidson said.
"It was a real culture shock to go into the military. You have to get up early in the morning, have regular hours, be told what to do and when to do it," he said.
"If you didn't do it, there were consequences. From my military experience, vague as it was, it really taught us how to get on together - that was the main thing."
He said service and living through COVID had similarities and differences.
"We've all had to get along in the past year especially because we've all been inside together," he said.
"Though it (COVID) is a completely different set up and we haven't been as worried about getting sick, so you can't really equate it that way."
As for Mr Monaghan, a former auditor-general of Australia, he too was conscripted into the army at a young age.
He served in the 2/6th Field Regiment, part of the 7th division in 1940, in Southern Borneo.
Mr Monaghan, trained as an artillery gunner, said that resolve and adapting to the ever-changing pandemic were needed more than anything else
"My earliest recollection of the army was back in 1944. We were lined up and called out to form up in ranks. When I was called up, I strolled along and was told, 'you're in the army now soldier, so march!' So I had to smarten up," Mr Monaghan said.
Mr Monaghan said the mentality and life skills developed during those early days in defence, when he was only 18, have contributed to his reception of the aged care sector going into lockdown.
As for this year's services, he said it was "good to get back to the semblance of normality now".
Elsewhere in Canberra, 95-year-old Frank Bolton in Page, who served 37 years in the Air Force during WWII mostly in the Asia-Pacific area, said the pandemic's impact on his care was difficult but life lessons during the Depression and constant travel has helped him stay positive.
"I was lucky that I was brought up through the Depression in the 1930s and I was able to cope as a young boy," Mr Bolton said.
"Having lost my father and having to look after a widowed mother, it was a learning experience, really, to be able to go through that experience and come out on the right side at the end of it as well.
"Those experiences have really helped me cope with what's happening today.
"We did our best then and we're doing our best now, that's all I can say."
The veteran said the constant travel between countries also helped him adapt to the constant changes in COVID restrictions and health advice.
Nicki Young, general manager of veteran services at RSL LifeCare, said the day was "one of the biggest on our calendar".
"We really do pause, reflect and commemorate the courage and sacrifice of those who have served our country," she said.
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