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Millions of Australians have gathered at Anzac Day dawn services across the country to pay tribute to servicemen and women in the first time most Aussies have been able to gather since the pandemic began.
The moving ceremonies kicked off a day of commemorations 107 years after the Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the shores of Gallipoli during World War I.
This year sees the return of full scale Anzac Day commemorations since 2019 in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions in recent years. It is also the first ceremony to be held since Australia and the US-led Coalition withdrew soldiers from Afghanistan.
Australians gathered at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, Martin Place in Sydney, Melbourne‘s Shrine of Remembrance, the Cenotaph in Brisbane and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra from 4.30am on Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison led commemorations in Darwin, where he used his speech to warn Australians of a ‘changing of the world’ amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s new security pact with Solomon Islands.
‘War does strike Europe again, coercion troubles our region once more, an arc of autocracy is challenging the rules-based order our grandparents secured and democratic free peoples are standing together again,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘In facing this world, we must remember again, it is only then we truly appreciate what these times require of us all.’
The Last Post is played in Sydney’s Martin Place, where thousands gathered for the Anzac Day dawn service
Melburnians braved chilly conditions at the Shrine of Remembrance at Monday’s service
Across the Tasman, thousands of Kiwis joined New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for a service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Gallipoli, the site of the Australia’s most disastrous wartime endeavour, has also welcomed back thousands of Australians and Kiwis for the first time since 2019.
In Sydney, thousands braved the rain to fill Martin Place to capacity for the solemn service.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet attended with two of his seven children and led commemorations by reciting the poem Salute, penned by Sydney Elliott Napier, who served with the First Australian Imperial Force during World War I.
He was joined by state opposition leader Chris Minns and Deputy Leader of the federal Opposition Tanya Plibersek who was there on behalf of Anthony Albanese, who was isolating at home with Covid.
Major General Matthew Pearse reminded the crowd of a number of significant anniversaries in 2022.
They include the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, the Fall of Singapore, the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Kokoda campaign.
He added it was a day to give thanks for all veterans ‘for their service, their sacrifice and their resilience’.
‘They’re filled with stories of ordinary Australians who pulled together despite adversity to support their mates and put their lives on the line to defend our national interests and secure a brighter future,’ the commander of Forces Command said.
An ADF servicewoman pays her respect to
The rain didn’t put a dampener on Sydney’s dawn service,
The Dedication was delivered by the Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley who then laid a wreath on behalf of the state.
There were similar scenes in Melbourne, where thousands braved the chilly conditions to pay their respects to the fallen at the Shrine of Remembrance.
RSL Victoria state president Robert Webster expected numbers to be slightly down on pre-pandemic crowds due to the long weekend and school holidays.
‘But one of the messages that we’ve been giving to the broader community is that we’ve got 270-odd sub-branches across the state, most of whom will be running a dawn service or a local march,’ he told AAP.
‘So go local.’
Dr Webster said Covid restrictions in recent years was hard on veterans who see Anzac Day as a time to reflect and catch up with mates.
A Sydneysider quietly reflects to pay tribute to fallen servicemen and women on Anzac Day
Monday marks 107 years after the Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the shores of Gallipoli during World War I. Pictured are Sydneysiders in Martin Place
Veterans were joined by thousands of Sydneysiders in Martin Place, despite the rain
Veterans rose early to take their seat in Martin Place, many for the first time since 2019
Big crowds are expected at Anzac Day marches will be held in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra later on Monday morning.
Governor-General David Hurley will deliver an address to the nation from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra following the march.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of Anzac Day commemorations at the memorial.
NSW has temporarily lifted the ban to allow two-up to be legally played in pubs, clubs, and elsewhere across the entire three-day Anzac Day long weekend.
The one-off aims to give back to veterans who missed out during the Covid-19 pandemic at the biggest Anzac Day commemoration since 2019.
Australian soldiers regularly played the coin toss betting game in trenches and on troopships during World War I, after it was originally played by immigrants and convicts in the 1850s goldfields.
The game involves a designated ‘spinner’ who throws two coins or pennies into the air as players bet on whether the coins will land on heads or tails.
A member of the Australian Defence Force stands guard during Anzac Day commemorations at the Cenotaph in Brisbane
Millions of Australians have paid tribute at dawn services across the country. Pictured is soldier standing guard in Brisbane
Commemorations were restricted to televised services only and no marches for the first time in more than a century in 2020 due to onset of Covid, where thousands paid their respects at home in driveway dawn commemorations.
Services and marches returned with limited crowds in most parts of the country in 2021, except for Perth and the surrounding Peel region which were plunged into a snap lockdown sparked by a hotel quarantine outbreak.
Monday is the first Anzac Day since forces withdrew from Afghanistan, where 41 Australians died in service.
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Andrew Gee said the number of lives saved and terrorist attacks prevented by Australian defence personnel could never be known.
But what is known is that they improved medical services, built critical infrastructure and helped a generation of women and girls access education and build careers.
‘The men and women who’ve served our nation through the generations have never asked for much in return,’ Mr Gee said.
‘In the end it comes down to one thing: that we never forget what they have done for us. That we keep their memory alive in our hearts and in the consciousness of our nation.
‘That sacred duty of remembrance currently rests with our generation and it is a commitment that we will in turn pass onto the next.’
Anzac Day commemorations are back to full capacity for the first time in three years
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led the the country’s Anzac Day commemorations at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
Federal election campaigning will take a back seat to Anzac Day commemorations.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor deputy leader Richard Marles will be in Darwin for services, as Labor leader Anthony Albanese remains in isolation at his Sydney home as he recovers from COVID-19.
Overseas, Anzac services will take place in Turkey, France, Thailand, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.
‘No matter how you mark Anzac Day this year – at a dawn service, at your own home, at your local RSL, or watching the national service on television – I encourage all Australians to pause and reflect on all those who have served, and those who continue to serve,’ Mr Gee said
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet was joined by two of his children at the Sydney dawn service
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek placed a wreath during the dawn service in Sydney’s Martin Place
Source: Daily Mail