Australians and New Zealanders alike this morning remembered servicemen and women who fought and died for their countries, most notably on April 25, 1915, at Gallipoli.
Dawn services across the nation marked the national celebration of their courage and self-sacrifice, and the common endeavour that bonded the people of two young nations. The most significant and best attended were the traditional service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in Canberra and the Dawn Service in Martin Place, but those acts of remembrance and reflection were echoed in communities large and small around the country.
Among the thousands of people who attended the Martin Place gathering were the NSW Premier, Mike Baird, federal Liberal Party senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, the deputy state leader of Labor, Tanya Plibersek and the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore attended the ceremony. Flowers were laid, speeches were spoken and, as always, the Last Post performed as those present honoured those who answered the call to service.
There are now no remaining survivors of the Great War, but survivors of later campaigns, from the Second World War on, alongside the family and descendants of combatants and support teams paused to remember mates, partners, relatives, testing times, personal losses and small victories.
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.’
Some might describe the mood as sombre but to most it was clearly a proud celebration. the 100th Sydney remembrance of the day the Anzac legend was born. A great tradition still lives, the delighted crowd showing respect and admiration not only for the veterans but for all armed forces past and present.
A large convoy of RSL cabs driven by volunteers conveyed veterans now to old and frail to March down Elizabeth Street for the rerouted Anzac Day parade. There was a slight autumn chill to the air but it was perfect weather for the servicemen and women marching down from Martin Place, along Elizabeth Street and past the Anzac Memorial at Hyde Park for the act of remembrance, when the command “Eyes Left” was given, hats were removed and flags dipped.
It was a great Sydney occasion, once again featuring the drum and pipe band of Scots College (celebrating their 75th parade) and the NSW Police Concert Band.
Michael Fogarty, 67, of Canberra, a retired former officer, told The Newsroom why he attended: “It means a lot, sentimentally, emotionally, personally. I’m not a veteran as such. I’ve served overseas – but I can only imagine those veterans, those colleagues who suffered terror and stress … I respect and admire them all.”
There was a low-key but heightened police security presence at the Martin Place dawn ceremony and march today. The increased police operation followed the arrest of a 16-year-old from Auburn in western Sydney on Sunday. The teen has been charged with preparing for or planning an act of terrorism, a charge that carries a potential life sentence. Police told the court they believed the teen, who is known to them, was attempting to acquire a gun to carry out an attack at an unspecified Anzac event. – Jesse Mullens