Australians and New Zealanders have shown they will not forget the Anzacs.
One year out from the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, at least 150,000 attended dawn services in Australian capital cities, with thousands more at services in suburbs and towns and in New Zealand.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made an unexpected appearance at the national dawn service at the Australian War Memorial and appeared touched by the Anzac tradition.
“I said to them it means a great deal to our nation that you should honour us by attending the dawn service,” AWM director Brendan Nelson told Sky News.
” … without hesitation they had an immense sense of pride in actually being here.
“But in the end … it’s not about the royals, it’s not about the governor-general … it’s about the men and women we honour.”
Prince William and Kate, who will return to the war memorial to attend the national service, were among the more than 35,000 who heard Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith urge Australians to remember those who have fought for their country.
“We are Australians, we are born of the Anzacs. We are the custodians and stewards of their spirit now and into the future. We must take good care of them,” Cpl Roberts-Smith said.”
Dr Nelson said it was a remarkable dawn service with an estimated 37,000 visitors.
“I am delighted with the number of people who came to the service. Anzac Day is Australia’s most significant national occasion, marking the 99th anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli,” he told reporters.
Dr Nelson said he would expect even more would attend the dawn service and national ceremony for next year’s 100th anniversary.
In Melbourne, an estimated 60,000 people gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance for the city’s dawn service.
Louise Percival went to the service for the first time wearing medals in honour of her grandfather, Gallipoli veteran Donald McKenzie.
“(It was) a very beautiful service,” she told AAP.
In Sydney, thousands of people crammed into Martin Place at dawn, with NSW Governor Marie Bashir pronouncing the Anzac Day Dedication.
In his address, retired lieutenant-general Ken Gillespie said the sacrifices made by diggers “will continue to influence our society and give us great courage for the future”.
At Adelaide’s war memorial, RSL spokesman Bill Denny told a crowd of more than 5000 that Anzac Day was about commemoration, not celebration.
“We must be very careful not to allow the oft-implied romance of war to overshadow the brutal reality, pain and loss that war delivers,” Mr Denny said.
In Brisbane, many in the crowd at Anzac Square attended for the first time, spurred by the coming 2015 centenary of the landing at Anzac Cove.
At Hobart’s dawn service, 6000 people were told Australia’s servicemen and women remained the heroes of a new generation.
“They provide today’s generation of people with heroes to look up to and inspire us to be selfless, honourable and to draw upon reserves of courage we never knew we had,” school student Jonah Lilley told the service.
Later on Friday, thousands more Australians and New Zealanders will attend the dawn service at Gallipoli, a prelude to major commemorations for next year’s centenary.