Young veterans from recent conflicts such as the Afghan war will lead this year’s Anzac march in Sydney.
Double amputee and former Australian commando Damien Thomlinson will join his Afghanistan veterans in leading this year’s Anzac Day march in Sydney.
“It’s really important for us to know that it doesn’t matter how old you are – you’re all Anzacs,” he said in Sydney on Monday.
Mr Thomlinson, 33, became an elite commando at the age of 24 and served in the South Pacific, East Timor and Afghanistan.
In April 2009, while on a night patrol in southern Afghanistan, his unit drove over an improvised bomb.
Mr Thomlinson suffered horrendous injuries in the explosion and eventually had both his legs amputated.
He says leading this year’s march will be a hugely proud moment for him.
“I really love what Anzac Day stands for, and the fact that all Australians can be proud of what all our servicemen have done,” he said.
He said it will be an important day for his fellow younger veterans.
“They love it – it’s diggers’ Christmas, mate,” Mr Thomlinson said of Anzac Day.
“It’s their favourite day of the year.”
RSL NSW president Don Rowe said it was important the 40 Australians who died in Afghanistan weren’t forgotten, and he hoped young veterans embraced the Anzac tradition.
“They are the future of the Anzac Day,” he said.
“It’s essential that they become part of it.”
The RSL expects 500 to 1000 young veterans at the Sydney march.
Meanwhile, the RSL’s Anzac Appeal this year aims to sell you a minute of silent contemplation as a way of helping returned service men and women.
The Anzac Appeal has developed a recording, The Minute of Silence, that can be purchased by telephone with most of the cost of the call going to support the work the RSL does with veterans and their families.
To purchase the Minute of Silence, phone 1902 250 414 for Victoria, 1902 250 415 (NSW & Qld), 1902 250 416 (Queensland), 1902 250 417 (South Australia & NT), 1902 250 418 Western Australia or 1902 250 419 (Tasmania)
Or alternatively, text the word SILENCE and your home state to 1999 1234.