Australians Gather In their Thousands at Dawn Services to Commemorate Anzac Day

Australians Gather In their Thousands at Dawn Services to Commemorate Anzac Day

Australians have turned out in their tens of thousands around the country and overseas to attend solemn ANZAC Day dawn services to commemorate the 108th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli and honour the 1.5 million military personnel who have served the country in conflicts, war and peacekeeping operations.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, at the dawn service in Canberra, said that Australians gather at the services because it reminds Australians of the troops from the Australian New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) launching a doomed attack on the cliff-lined shores of Gallipoli in World War I “in the gap between moonset and sunrise.”

“Gallipoli is just one battle in our history, but in all its stories of valour and resilience, in its simple truth of Australians looking out for each other no matter how bad things got, it has come to stand for something so much bigger in our collective heart,” the prime minister said.

“Every Anzac Day, from the greatest memorial to the simplest cenotaph, we honour all who have served in our name and all who continue to serve today. It is a collective act of remembrance, reflection and gratitude—one carried out by multiple generations of Australians and devoted to multiple generations.

“What we have created as Australians, and nurtured over generations, is something we must never take for granted.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese delivers a speech during ANZAC Day commemorations at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Tuesday, April 25, 2023. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Prime Minister Calls For Australia to Truly Honour Veterans
Speaking at the Australian War Memorial, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said if Australians are “to truly honour our veterans,” “we owe them something more than just gratitude.”

“Just as they stepped up for us, we must step up for them,” he said.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Matt Keogh echoed the sentiment, saying the country has a responsibility to look after its veterans, whether they’ve served overseas, whether they’ve come with injury or mental illness from that or served in Australia.

“We’re doing everything we can (to look after them), but there’s absolutely more to do, and I acknowledge that,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Keogh, who is representing Australia at the Gallipoli dawn service in Turkey, said attendance to the service is set to be the largest since centenary commemorations in 2015.

“What we’ve really seen ANZAC Day become is not just about one conflict; it’s now a day where we commemorate not just those that died but all those people that have served in our uniform on our behalf in conflict,” he said.

Thousands Gather Before Dawn to Remember
In Sydney, thousands of people gathered at the city’s cenotaph in Martin Place before daylight on Tuesday for the state’s longest-running dawn service.

Led by New South Wales Governor Margaret Beazley and New South Wales Premier Chris Minns, the attendees were also joined by foreign representatives from Belgium, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Turkey.

Sydneysider Glenda Rixon’s late father, Henry “Harry” Rixon, served in the Korean War as an infantryman. She said her father didn’t reveal much about what happened during his 13 months abroad, but she remembered the warmth shared among ex-soldiers during ANZAC Day reunions.

“He’d say ‘we were like brothers’ … they had to rely on each other,” she said.

Rixon also appreciated that the Martin Place service noted the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement.

“Usually they don’t say anything—it’s like it’s the forgotten war,” she told AAP.

War veterans make their way down Elizabeth Street during the ANZAC Day parade in Sydney, Australia, on April 25, 2017. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Thirty-two-year-old defence force veteran Victor Tsang, the First Field Ambulance Association’s Lieutenant Colonel, was among thousands of migrants who participated in the Gallipoli campaign.

Tsang said the day is a time to remember the sacrifice of all Australians, he said.

“It’s important for me because as a migrant, we also like to contribute ourselves to the country,” the 32-year veteran told AAP.

During the daw service, thousands of people seated and stood from George Street to Castlereagh Street, singing hymns, anthems and poems.

Later on Tuesday, more than 7000 serving and former defence force members, including World War II veterans, will march from Martin Place to the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park.

A bugler plays the last post at the Stone of Remembrance during ANZAC Day commemorations at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Tuesday, April 25, 2023. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Meanwhile, in Queensland, tens of thousands have attended the dawn services, with crowds surrounding the Shrine of Remembrance in the heart of Brisbane to lay wreaths.

Queensland’s capital hosted the state’s main Anzac Day dawn gathering, as 15,000 gathered for the service before a march that later wound through the city.

It was only one of more than 440 services held in towns and cities where the Last Post sounded to signal the final rest of the fallen.

Governor Jeannette Young and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk laid wreaths during the Brisbane ceremony.

“We acknowledge the immense bravery and dedication of those first soldiers at Gallipoli, those who fought in the muddy trenches on the Western Front and all the courageous men and women who have served our country in conflict,” Dr Young told the crowd.

RSL Queensland president Major General Stephen Day said it was vital for all Queenslanders to support, recognise and take part and keep the true Anzac spirit alive.

“Anzac Day is a day where we remember and commemorate all of those who have sacrificed so much to secure the freedoms and way of life that we, as Australians, are so privileged to have,” Maj Gen Day told AAP.

“There’s no greater way to honour the selfless contribution of our past and present service personnel than by participating in your local Anzac Day commemorations and keeping the spirit of our Anzacs alive.”

AAP contributed to this article.  » …
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