SITTING at the Newcastle Anzac Day Dawn Service at Fort Scratchley with his daughter sleeping in his lap, Lieutenant Commander Ben Scott felt very lucky.
Newcastle RSL Sub-Branch's service was invite-only for around 250 people, due to logistic difficulties in staging the event during COVID-19.
"It's excellent this year that the Newcastle RSL was able to put this on today," Commander Scott said.
"It's very special bringing my kids and my wife to this today and teaching them about it."
He said he wanted to ensure his daughters Millie, 12, and Scarlett, 4, understood where the liberties they enjoy came from.
"I feel very privileged," he said of being invited to attend.
"It is excellent, the fact that the governments are pushing it, to be able to do it [have some versions of events] is good."
Commander Scott joined the Royal Australian Navy 19 years ago. He was an Officer of the Watch on HMAS Newcastle and piloted it into the harbour and led the city's Anzac Day parade in 2004. He served on it in the Middle East in 2005.
He was the last Navigating Officer on the HMAS Sydney (FFG 03) and was the navigator for the International Fleet Review in Sydney in 2013.
He now works at the ADF Warfare Training Centre at Williamtown.
"I wouldn't entrust my lifestyle to someone else," he said.
"I'm not prepared to let someone fight for something I'm not willing to fight for myself.
"When I joined it was just after the 9/11 attacks and I was joining anyway but my mum said 'Ben are you sure you want to do this?' and I said 'Yeah Mum I do, because it's the right thing, why would I give up what I have?'
"Freedom has a price and we have the freedoms we have today in our western liberal democracy because of the sacrifices of other people and you can never take that away."
Commander Scott's Welsh wife Sarah didn't grow up learning about Anzac Day, but travelled to Gallipoli before she arrived in Australia in 2011.
"It makes me realise why the Australians I was travelling with were getting so emotional while they were there and how important that was and how special it was that I actually got to go there and see the graves and honour the people who had died."
She said it was an emotional experience whenever her husband marched.
"You get the lump in the throat, you realise what happens and what they've given up and that potentially his life would be at risk at some point because I know he wouldn't hesitate to go if he had to."
The dawn service was Jacob Shaw's first as a musician in the Australian Army Band Newcastle.
He joined two years ago and spent Anzac Day 2019 in basic training.
"It was great doing my first one, it was very special."
He and his wife Elicia each had a grandfather who served in WWII.
"It's important to think about everyone who served in the past and the people currently serving in war zones, to think about what they're doing for our country keeping us safe," he said.
Mrs Shaw said it was "special" to be invited and a shame more couldn't attend, but the broadcasts were a good idea.
"It's just the times we're in at the moment with COVID and something is definitely better than nothing."