EVERY year when I attend my local Anzac Day dawn service, I think about how fortunate I am to live the life I do.
I have slept in a warm bed, I have clean, dry clothes to wear and I can feel confident none of my family or friends have been killed overnight. It's a stark contrast to an 18-year-old landing in Anzac Cove in 1915, or moving along the Kokoda Track in World War II.
Because so many Australians were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe and free, I am able to live a comfortable, sheltered life. I've not known suffering or sacrifice.
Things could have been very different, were it not for the efforts of our servicemen and women. A visit to Darwin a few years ago made it hit home just how close we were to having WWII fought on our shores.
The conflict of WWII alone claimed upwards of 50 million lives. That's the equivalent of losing the entire population of our country twice over in the space of just six years. Add in deaths caused by illness or poverty and the number moves even higher.
It's truly unimaginable.
Many of those who made it back home then set about making a contribution of a different kind, taking up soldier settlement blocks across the state. The soldier settlement scheme gave many returned soldiers a new purpose, and helped open up new land and change our state's agricultural industry in the process.
This and every Anzac Day, I say thank you to all those who served in the Boer War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam War, both Gulf Wars and in Afghanistan, as well as in the many other battles or missions our armed forces have played a part in. Many are long gone but their legacy lives on.
Thank you also to those who are still serving - be it in East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq and throughout the Middle East, the Philippines or Egypt.
Let's also not forget those who wanted to serve but were unable to due to medical reasons or age restrictions, as well as those who contributed to the war effort back home and kept the country running. Thanks also to the families who had to learn how to cope without a loved one who never came home.
While we pause to remember the fallen each Anzac Day, the contribution of our servicemen and women benefits us each and every day.
Lest we forget.