Thousands of Australians have gathered at dawn services to pay tribute to servicemen and women on Anzac Day.
For some states, the commemorations for the 107th anniversary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli marked a return to normal crowds following two years of disruption due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The national dawn service in Canberra began with a moment of quiet reflection followed by the sound of a didgeridoo played by Worimi man, Leading Aircraftman Tarryn Roach.
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Army veteran Mike Ruffin – who served in Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam – told the service at the Australian War Memorial said it was a day to reflect on the Anzac spirit.
He spoke of his personal experience on New Year’s Eve in 1968 during the Vietnam War, which had forged a lasting bond between mates.
“In hindsight, it seems inconceivable that five men could run across 100 metres 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 would have been the end as we would never have left a mate behind.
“Every Anzac Day, I reflect on that experience and am so grateful that we all survived. We still keep in touch to this day.”
He said Australia was fortunate that current service personnel were “so highly trained, prepared to take the risks and committed to serving their country when asked to do so”.
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.
Mr Morrison said in a statement ahead of the service it was a day to be truly grateful for the sacrifices of those who had served and “rededicate ourselves to those same values and those principles that so many have fought for”.
He said there was a “new fight for freedom” in Ukraine, for which Australia was providing support.
“Freedom from those who would seek to coerce them. Freedom from those who would seek to impose their will.”
It 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.
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, Mr Gee said.
Canberra’s commemorations will include the first full veterans’ march in three years.
The RSL ACT branch has 41 contingents registered for the march, equal to between 850 and 900 marchers.
Governor-General David Hurley will deliver an address to the nation from the Australian War Memorial following the march.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of Anzac Day commemorations at the memorial.
Overseas, Anzac services will take place in Turkey, France, Thailand, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.
Delivering the address in Sydney, Major General Matthew Pearse said 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.”
© AAP 2022