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Legacy chalks up a century of looking after Australians

Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

When Chris Appleton lost a dear army friend overseas, he knew he had to step up to keep a promise made by Australia's servicemen a century ago.

The president of Canberra Legacy and army veteran of 33 years was always going to volunteer to help care for the families of veterans after his friend was killed in Lebanon in 1986, leaving behind a widow and small child.

"There was a time Legacy was a household word, most Australian families had some experience of wars," he said.

"Fortunately, the cost to our nation is not so great, but a loss to a family is felt the same as it was 100 years ago."

In the trenches of the Western Front during World War I, a soldier pledged to his dying mate he would look after his wife and children.

This became known as "the promise" which 100 years on, Legacy volunteers still work to keep.

The Legacy centenary torch relay arrived in Canberra on Monday as part of a journey across the country to mark its 100th anniversary.

The relay coincides with the launch of this year's Legacy Week.

Torchbearers included Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, former senator and Olympic Gold medallist Nova Peris, and Australian War Memorial director Matt Anderson.

Mr Appleton urged Australians to donate to Legacy, which supports about 40,000 partners and children of veterans.

"Our nation will need Legacy for another century yet," he said.

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