As Anzac Day rolls around, The Daily Advertiser asked NSW Riverina diggers and veterans what motivated them to serve in the first place.
For Corporal Michael Garrard it was about carrying on the family tradition and joining the ranks of his father and grandfather who chose to serve their country.
Cpl Garrard grew up hearing about his grandfather's harrowing wartime experiences, having spent two traumatic years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
His grandfather put up his hand to join the Malayan federated volunteer forces during the fall of Singapore, when Australian soldiers were rounded up and placed into Changi internment camps.
By the time he emerged from that camp he was skin and bones, and Cpl Garrard said he spoke very little about what he endured during his time inside.
"I think a lot of it likes to be forgotten, given how horrific it was," Cpl Garrard said.
"He was in the camp for about two years. When he came out he had lost a lot of weight, really unhealthy. He was down to 43 kilograms."
Cpl Garrard will be honouring the sacrifices of veterans like his grandfather at this year's Anzac Day, where he will be the flag orderly for the catafalque party.
It will be a much more formal proceeding than last year, which had to be heavily scaled down due to COVID.
"I was out in the driveway with my family. Same with the neighbourhood, everyone turned out. It was a bit different, but it felt quite special," he said.
Wagga Wagga veteran Ken May had his own special ritual he did in lieu of Anzac Day last year, putting little flags on each grave at the war cemetery.
Mr May said joining the airforce had been a dream of his ever since he was a 13-year-old boy who dreamed of flying airplanes.
"It was my thing as a youngster. I just liked airplanes and I was a boy scout. When I went to technical school in Melbourne they had a cadet unit, and I loved it so much that I decided on the spot," he said.
"It was three months before I turned 17, which was the minimum age back then, so I had to wait three months. I travelled on a train here to Wagga to do recruit training on my birthday."
Warrant Officer Class Two Robert Cooper also joined the military at an early age, being the third generation in his family to do so.
The military history runs deep in his family's bloodline, which have also highly valued the armed forces.
"My father was in for 23 years, my grandparents served in the second world war, and both my uncles have served in the navy," WO2 Cooper said.
"It's good to have Anzac Day back. It's a highlight for the defence members and their families."
WO2 Cooper celebrated Anzac Day on his driveway last year, but is looking forward to having a proper ceremony this Sunday.
Wagga RSL sub-branch president David Gardiner was recruited into the national service in 1968 into the Vietnam war.
Mr Gardiner said it pained him to leave his wife, who he had only married 18 months before, and that they had an emotional reunion when he returned home in one piece.
He said that it had been a "frightening" experience living in the Vietnamese jungle, but that he had also forged lifelong friendships while he was out there.
He regularly meets up with his old platoon mates to reminisce about the memories.
"It was two years of great experience, and it really affected me for the rest of my life," Mr Gardiner said.