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Tens of thousands of Australians have honoured the country’s fallen servicemen and women in parades across the country, during the first large-scale Anzac Day commemorations in two years.
After two years of COVID-19 restrictions inspired driveway dawn services, 2022 marked the first time many were able to return to full capacity services since the pandemic began.
Huge crowds were drawn to cenotaphs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin and Perth to remember the sacrifice Australia’s military personnel have made in defence of the nation.
After the service, veterans from the Vietnam War, World War II and other conflicts took to the streets surrounded by thousands of onlookers.
In Sydney, those who recently fought in Afghanistan led the march.
Kokoda track veteran Private Colin Moire, who turns 100 this year, said he was proud to march alongside fellow veterans.
“This is a good country and it’s worth fighting for,” he said.
Alf Carpenter, who recently turned 105, walked as far as his legs could take him in the parade.
“Everybody knows Alfie, mate, he is a legend,” a fellow veteran said.
“This guy here fought in Greece, Crete … amazing, he swam across the river with his saddlebag.”
Marion Painter, a wireless operator during WWII, travelled with a bus load of people from Narabeen’s ANZAC retirement village to the city, a journey the home’s residents have made for the past 60 years.
“It means the world,” she said.
“I am 99 this year and I wouldn’t have missed this for all the tea in China.”
In Brisbane, the “Light the Dawn” tradition established during the pandemic continued as families stepped outside their homes at dawn to commemorate the Anzacs and other veterans.
Despite a rainy start to the day, candles were lit and homes were decorated in poppies to begin the commemorations.
Andrew Blackmore prepared Anzac biscuits to give out to neighbours, as family members donned their relatives’ army medals and uniforms with pride.
“It’s intimate, it’s personal and its nice to share with your neighbours,” he said.
In a moving dawn service address in Canberra, veteran Michael Ruffin spoke about the power of mateship, even in the face of extreme adversity
He spoke of one operation in Vietnam in 1968, when his patrol group were ambushed, forcing the men to flee across open ground while under heavy fire.
“In hindsight, it seemed inconceivable that five men could run across 100m of open ground whilst being subjected to that amount of fire and not receive a single gunshot wound,” he said.
“Had any one of us been wounded that had would have been the end, as we would never have left a mate behind.”
The solemnity of Anzac Day was not lost on the nation’s politicians, who put party lines to rest during the Federal election campaign to attend dawn services.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles shared a handshake at a dawn service in Darwin, which is marking the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin during WWII.
As Australians commemorated the day, so too did New Zealanders: Across the ditch and hours earlier huge crowds gathered to remember those lost in military action at Gallipoli in the first World War.
Over eight months in 1915 the allies attempted to take the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey in what would be a bold strike against the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany at the time.
However the confrontation ended in a stalemate, as allied forces battled rough ground and heavily fortified Turkish defensive lines.
In all more than 8700 Australians and 2700 New Zealanders were killed and the allied forces were eventually evacuated.
Despite the action being universally considered a loss, the Anzac legend was born: one in which soldiers from halfway around the war fought valiantly, defended their mates, showed good humour and pioneered several military techniques under extreme duress.