From the beaches to bush, from tiny towns to the nation’s capital, Australians came back together to remember the fallen on an Anzac Day more closely resembling the past.
Although crowds were limited, and some services cancelled, thousands were able to gather in the pre-dawn Anzac stillness for the first time in the pandemic, standing not quite shoulder to shoulder.
As bugles pierced the silence, a sound the prime minister said was as much a part of the landscape as the birds, Australians were reminded of the bravery and sacrifice of those who have served.
Across the globe on the Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula, a small group of soldiers including Australians, New Zealanders, Brits, French and Indians also came together to observe the 106th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign.
And in New Zealand, which welcomes the Anzac dawn before Australia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at the largest memorial service at the Auckland War Museum Memorial after last year standing vigil at the end of her driveway during a stage four lockdown.
With the coronavirus largely contained, parades were mostly back except in Western Australia’s Perth and Peel regions, which are subject to a three-day lockdown this weekend.
The Australian War Memorial held the traditional dawn service and national ceremony, with 3000 pre-registered ticket holders able to attend the dawn service and 4200 at the national ceremony in Canberra.
Those paying tribute at home stood at the end of their driveways at dawn, as occurred last year amid the pandemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on this Anzac Day another chapter of history was coming to a close as Australian soldiers departed Afghanistan, our longest war.
In his commemorative address, Mr Morrison paid tribute to the 41 Australians who had lost their lives in the Afghanistan war and the 3900 who served.
He made special mention of the first Australian to be killed over there at the age of just 33, Sergeant Andrew Robert Russell of the Special Air Service Regiment, who died when the long-range patrol vehicle in which he was travelling struck a suspected anti-vehicle mine.
Today the baby girl he left behind is 19 years old and studying criminology, Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said the Afghanistan veterans were the bravest of their generation, and the world was now safer than 20 years ago when terrorism struck on September 11.
Defence minister Peter Dutton paid tribute to all past and current Australians who have served in the military, saying they had “fought to end evil and topple tyranny”, with many returning home physically or mentally scarred.
“In remembering the original Anzacs – and those that followed them – we not only recall their deeds, but also recognise the best qualities that defined them,” he said.
“Qualities which represent the highest standard for the Australian character and the society that we desire to live in.”
Chief of Defence Angus Campbell said current members of the Australian Defence Force have a lot to be proud of.
“Every day I see our people humbly carry out their duty with excellence and initiative, and display great mateship. This is the essence of the Anzac Spirit,” he said.
“We remember and honour those who went before us from the Gallipoli landing in 1915 through to the campaigns and operations of today.”
Governor-General David Hurley and Mrs Hurley were spending Anzac Day in the NT, attending the Darwin dawn service before travelling to Katherine.
Turkey and France held separate remembrance ceremonies for their fallen soldiers. All memorial events were kept small this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.