As hundreds of thousands of people from Gallipoli to the smallest Australian towns paid tribute to the Anzacs, a new war on terrorism could not be ignored.
For the second year in a row, authorities say they thwarted an alleged terror plot targeting Anzac Day commemorations, this time in Sydney.
Yet despite beefed-up security and a reduction in crowds after last year’s centenary events, the 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli landings by Australian and New Zealand soldiers was never at risk of being forgotten.
Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith said he believed interest in the Anzacs was far from waning.
“It is probably across the board increasing,” he told reporters after an estimated 55,000 people turned out for the dawn service in Canberra, half last year’s number.
“Importantly the next generation of Australians acknowledge that sacrifice, and have been taught that is what we must do, moving forward as a country.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia, New Zealand and Turkey count Gallipoli as a momentous chapter in their foundation story.
“Today we offer our solidarity to the Turkish people as we and our allies battle together a new war against terrorism, a new war fought both abroad and at home and in every dimension in the battle space and the cyber space,” Mr Turnbull said in his first Anzac Day address as the nation’s leader.
But Mr Turnbull said Anzac Day was not about glorifying war.
“This day does not commemorate a triumph of arms,” he told the crowd at the Australian War Memorial.
“It commemorates the triumph of the human spirit, the courage and resolve of those who 100 years ago and ever since, and today put their lives on the line.”
Security was increased in Sydney after a 16-year-old boy was charged with planning a terrorist act. This comes a year after five teenagers were arrested in Melbourne and another 14-year-old in Britain for allegedly planning terror attacks at Anzac Day events.
Security was stepped up with airport-style screening at the Anzac commemorative site at Gallipoli and the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.
Hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders slept out to be at the dawn service at Gallipoli, where the Anzac story began.
“It is a story of brave men who fought in a foreign land for our values, our freedoms and our sovereignty,” Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan told the crowd.
“It is a story of courage, resilience and a unique Anzac spirit of rolling your sleeves up and getting the job done, no matter what the adversity.”
Australian Defence Force personnel on deployment in Afghanistan gathered in the Kabul dawn to reflect on their work in the war-torn country and on the sacrifices of those before them.
“We’re honouring the memory of those who came before us and the fallen,” said Signalman Tim Jerome from the 7th Signal Regiment out of Toowoomba.
“We’ve got a job to do over here. It’s not finished.”
Equally as proud was WWII veteran Grahame Bernard Tweedale, who refused to use his wheelchair for his 44th Brisbane Anzac Day parade in a row.
“It is about pride of unit,” the 94-year-old said, his eyes filling with tears.
The sustained heroic deeds of the Anzacs captured the public imagination, Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey said as he urged civilians to show similar 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.