An estimated 45,000 people attended Anzac Day commemorations in the national capital to honour and remember the fallen and those who have and are still serving the nation.
Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson said the large attendances spoke to the nation’s respect for those who serve and the families who love them.
An estimated 35,000 attended the Dawn Service at the AWM, while 10,000 gathered for the National Ceremony, at which Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove delivered the Commemorative Address, his last public address at the Memorial in this capacity.
The National Ceremony featured a commemorative service and a veterans’ march, as well as a performance by Australian singer/songwriter Fred Smith. The ceremony concluded with a fly-past.
“Australians from all backgrounds come together on Anzac Day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Australian servicemen and servicewomen in every theatre of war and on operational service. Although not said, we recommit ourselves to one another, our nation and the ideals of mankind,” Dr Nelson said.
The Dawn Service commenced with Wing Commander Jonathan Lilley, Air Force Senior Indigenous Liaison Officer and member of the Worimi people, playing the didgeridoo from the parapet of the Memorial, followed by Corporal Mark Donaldson VC delivering the Commemorative Address.
For the seventh year in a row, images of Australian servicemen and servicewomen were projected onto the front façade of the Memorial ahead of the Dawn Service. In addition, an audio-visual presentation featuring reflections of those affected by military service in Afghanistan was played on the large screens around the grounds. The pre-dawn proceedings also featured a series of readings by Australian servicemen and servicewomen.
Dr Nelson said he the attendance at this year’s Dawn Service showed the enduring connection so many people have to Anzac Day and what it represents for servicemen and servicewomen, and all Australians.
“On Anzac Day we always pause to commemorate the landings on Gallipoli in 1915, but the day has become so much more. It is the day we remember the commitment and sacrifice of all our men and women who have served in conflicts and on operational service, and those who continue to serve today,” Dr Nelson said.