Dawn services have been held around the country to mark the 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli landings by Australian and New Zealand soldiers.
Crowd numbers were down compared to 2015, which was marked by massive turnouts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings.
About 55,000 gathered in the chill Canberra pre-dawn at the Australian War Memorial for the national service, well down on last year’s 120,000-strong crowd.Memorial director Brendan Nelson said Anzac Day was not about war, but about love and friendship and honouring the men and women who devote their lives to their fellow Australians.
He said it was tempting to settle for the broad brushstrokes, headlines and shallow imagery of our history.Our comfortable lives bred easy indifference to the individual sacrifice made in our names, he said.’102,700 Australians are named on the roll of honour. Like us each had only one life, one life to serve others and our nation.
They chose us,’ he said.The morning’s services were marred by news that a 16-year-old boy was charged with terror offences over an alleged Anzac Day plot in Sydney.NSW Premier Mike Baird described the arrest as disturbing, but urged people to still commemorate the day.
‘My strong encouragement is if you are intending to go (to an Anzac service), go,’ he told reporters immediately after a dawn service at Sydney’s Martin Place.Mr Baird had joined other dignitaries from Australia and New Zealand to lay wreathes during the service, where crowds were warned about how some memorials had been ‘desecrated’.
‘It’s something we should be looking at very carefully to make sure it’s something that is preserved,’ MC Lieutenant Colonel John Moore said during a pause before the formal start of the service.In some areas, developers had come in and ruined old memorials honouring the sacrifice of past soldiers, he said.In Brisbane, Governor Paul de Jersey urged a 25,000-strong crowd to show sensitivity to modern-day soldiers carrying the psychological scars of service.
‘We must not forget veterans whose war wounds are not readily visible,’ he said.A youth vigil, involving representatives from about a dozen groups including the Scouts, SA Surf Lifesaving and St John Ambulance, was a highlight of Adelaide’s dawn service at the city’s war memorial.
Thousands also gathered at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance and the Auckland War Memorial to pay their respects.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attended a dawn service at North Bondi RSL club in Sydney and is heading to Canberra for the national Anzac Day ceremony.
Overseas, rain greeted Australians and New Zealanders as they trooped in to the Anzac commemoration site to camp out overnight for the service on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula.Governor-General Peter Cosgrove will attend the service at Villers-Bretonneux in France.