Australians have done the nation’s servicemen and women proud by honouring their sacrifices in record numbers, the Australian War Memorial director says.
Australians didn’t let a foiled terror plot to attack Melbourne’s Anzac Day services deter them from attending events to mark the centenary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli.
War memorial director Brendan Nelson said there had been a “palpable determination” among Australians to attend Saturday’s commemorations to honour the sacrifices made by servicemen and women in times of war and peace around the world.
“Australia and Australians have done these men and women proud,” he said.
Dr Nelson said despite the focus on the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, it was also important to remember the commitment and sacrifices of all the servicemen and women in conflicts since World War I and those who continued to serve today.
The record 151,000-strong crowd attending national services at the Australian War Memorial included some of those who missed out on the ballot for services at Anzac Cove.
Among them was Barbra Graeme from Dubbo, who wore the medals her grandfather was awarded fighting at Gallipoli.
She had entered the ballot to attend the centenary service at Anzac Cove but, having missed out, decided the dawn and national services in Canberra were the next best thing.
Moving services in Turkey were conducted amid a huge security operation incorporating more than 5000 Turkish security personnel across the Gallipoli peninsula as 10,500 Australian and New Zealand pilgrims, heads of state and British royals marked the 100th anniversary of the landings.
Brian and Rhonda Engert, from Sydney, had nothing but praise for the organisers, despite pre-service predictions of potential traffic chaos.
“It was absolutely flawless,” Mrs Engert said after a sleepless night awaiting the dawn service.
There was a highly visible police presence back home, with police numbers trebled in Melbourne where Anzac parade officers were armed in a move that Victoria Police acting Chief Commissioner Tim Cartwright said was likely to become the norm going forward.
New Zealand police also put extra security measures in place after a Kiwi posted a video online trying to incite Anzac Day violence.
But commemorations in both countries went off without a hitch.
For many marchers and flag-wavers, it only stiffened their resolve.
“It just shows who we are, and we’ve rocked out regardless of these threats,” former naval marine technician Richard Lawson, 25, said in Brisbane.
“We have just proven ourselves to be the good, right sort of people.”