An alleged terror plot by a suspected lone teenager has failed to dampen Anzac Day commemorations in Sydney’s CBD.
Thousands of veterans and families have marked the 101st anniversary of Anzac forces landing at Gallipoli in a dawn ceremony at Martin Place, hours after the 16-year-old boy was arrested near his Auburn home on Sunday night.
Court documents show the Australian-born teenager, whose arrest was announced just before the start of Monday’s service, is accused of trying to obtain a gun in preparation for a terrorist act.
Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan and NSW Premier Mike Baird urged the public to continue their plans despite the thwarted plot, which is the second year in a row of an alleged Anzac threat by a teenager.
War widow Daphne Dunne, 96, said she wouldn’t let future terror risks stop her paying her respects.
“Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter where you are, if anything is going to happen, it’s going to happen,” she said while wearing her late husband’s Victoria Cross on Monday.
“We can’t let it change our whole life.”
The scars of warfare were visible on two Vietnamese ex-soldiers who lifted the ends of their trousers to show scars on their legs at the early morning service.
“We defended our freedom side by side with Australian troops and allied troops,” Xuan Lam said.
Paul Fenton, who was marching with his father’s medals, wanted children to know about the wars Australians have fought.
“Hopefully we’ll never have to go through war again,” he said.
“(But) from day one, it’s never stopped and I think to the end of time it’ll keep going and going.”
The dawn service was followed by the parade, during which more than 16,800 people marched through the CBD and onlookers lined Elizabeth St, waving hands and flags.
Shouts of “thank you” could be heard as elderly veterans passed.
Asked why he thought it important to participate in the parade, World War II veteran Jack Brightwell said: “I think solidarity within the community is necessary. There’s plenty of evil things out there.”
New Zealander Graeme Anderson, who grew up without his fallen father, said the ceremony’s celebration of friendship resonated with him.
“That’s how it is in the services,” the man, who travelled from Tasmania for the day’s events, told AAP.
“Once you’re in, you’re never out.”
The teenager arrested over the terror charges is expected to apply for bail on Tuesday, after he did not appear at a hearing in a Parramatta court on Monday.