Thousands of people have joined veterans at today's Anzac Day march in Perth at which RSL WA President Graham Edwards issued a clarion call for younger veterans to become involved and for people generally to be the embodiment of the Anzac ideals.
After around 50,000 people attended the dawn service, many more lined the streets to cheer on the parade.
The oldest veteran known to have marched was Eric Roediger of the 2/3 Australian Machine Gun Battalion. He served in South East Asia but endured much of World War II as a POW, finishing up in the coal mines of Japan.
He turned 103 yesterday.
Modern-day digger Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Willis, whose grandfather Robert Lowson was one of the original Anzacs to land at Gallipoli in 1915, led the march.
Lt Col Willis said his pride at being able to lead the march was tempered with a realisation the Anzac tradition needed work to survive.
“The world and Australia have changed,” Lt Col Willis said. “But I'm sure those challenges can be met and the RSL can deliver like it did for my grandfather's generation.”
WA governor Malcolm McCusker echoed the sentiment, saying Anzac day was about more than just the landing at Gallipoli in 1915 - it was about all wars that Australia had fought in and the people who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.
“To them we owe an enormous debt. A debt that we must never forget and which we must try to pay in our daily lives,” he said.
Mr McCusker also paid tribute to the Aboriginal servicemen who were only in recent times acknowledged, as well as nurses and others who helped the wounded.
Young onlooker Maggie Wormold, 17, who had travelled from Busselton to attend the march, said she felt her generation was determined to retain the memories of the sacrifices of older Australians.
“It is important we never forget what they did in the last century, and what our forces are doing today,” she said.
Proud family members and friends cheered as service personnel marched down St Georges Terrace.
Young faces were dotted throughout the parade, with relatives marching for veterans as their numbers dwindle.
Jessica Tyrie, 17, who wore her great grandfather’s medals, watched on as her father marched with the Gulf War veterans.
Jessica said she was remembering her great-great grandfather, who died when HMAS Perth sunk, because she had been given his surname, Fay, as her middle name in his honour.
"We are here to be thankful," Jessica said. "I'm proud that they fought to defend us, but sad that the wars happened at all."
Ann Devereaux, of Thornlie, marched with the 2/26 Infantry Battallion in honour of her uncle Charles Delacour, who was killed in Malaysia at age 29.
Ms Devereaux never met him, as he died just before she was born. "I'm told they were attacked and uncle Charlie stayed while the others got away," Ms Devereaux said. "They never found his body."
Mr Edwards, in his address to the service of remembrance, said that if the Anzac spirit is embodied in the flag and the anthem so too should the qualities that they held to represent the character of the nation.
"Honour, humour, loyalty, a disdain of authority and officialdom, sacrifice, courage, determination, self sufficiency, initiative, compassion and the view that two things stood Australia apart and above all other nations - the spirit of mateship and the spirit of fair go for all," Mr Edwards said.
"So I ask you when you sing our national anthem or reflect upon our flag to recognise too the spirit which makes them much more special than just a song or a piece of cloth.
"It is my view the sacrifice of the Anzacs warrants more than the justifiable recognition it receives on this special day.
"Perhaps we a ought better honour our Anzacs in our daily lives with those same qualities of humour, Honour, sacrifice mateship and a fair go for all."
Mr Edwards called on younger veterans "to pick up the baton and to accept the traditions and responsibilities of Anzac Day that have been kept alive by veterans from World War II and Korea".
This is Mr Edwards' complete speech
Like many people who have served in a theatre of war I often reflect how lucky I am to have survived.
Indeed as I reflect I know life has presented me, and others who came home, opportunities denied our war dead.
As such I often think we should look at our Australian flag and reflect how fortunate we are to live in the country our flag represents.
And on days like today when I hear our national anthem I can't help but focus on the words Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free.
Well we are young and we are free. Certainly we have paid an immense price for that freedom.
Embodied in the spirit of our flag is over 102,000 young Australian men and women who have given their lives that others may live in security………men and women whose lives were cut short by the harsh, stark and horrific reality of war.
Our flag and our anthem are indeed national symbols. Symbols which should have a deeper meaning than just something we sing at a sporting match or a design on a tee shirt or a beach towel.
Far too many young Australian men and women have died in overseas countries in overseas wars. We should remember they died to preserve the greatest principle known to mankind - the principle of freedom.
As our National Anthem and National Flag are iconic symbols in which we should have pride, so too is a third iconic symbol of our nation - the symbol of the spirit of the ANZACS.
Our Anzac spirit and heritage was ignited on the bloodied beaches of Gallipoli. It grew through the unimaginable suffering of that war to end all wars; in the muddy trenches of France, where young men became fodder for machine gun and artillery shell.
The Anac spirit grew in the two wars in the sands of the Middle East in places like Beersheba, Tobruk and Libya where more young Australians fought and died.
And as history has shown more wars have taken young Australian lives. In battles closer to home during WW11 that took place on the land, the sea and in the skies above in places like Kokoda, Milne Bay the Coral Sea and other far flung, remote places.
Tragically thousands of others perished in POW camps in Malaya, Borneo and Thailand.
Many of our finest fell in the frozen landscapes of Korea and in Malaya and in the war of my own era in the jungles of Vietnam. A war that divided our nation.
The cream of our youth has continued to serve in conflict and in peacekeeping roles in the finest traditions of those original ANZACs in Rwanda, Timor, Iraq, the Solomon's, the Gulf.
Their reputation grows on in the mountains and plains of Afghanistan where more lives have been lost as Australian troops continue to display the same raw and enduring courage which typified those original ANZACS.
Please also consider the anguish, the sense of loss and sadness at home where thousands of Australian mothers, fathers, wives and children have wept as they too carry the tragic cost of war and the greatest and saddest burden of all - the burden of a grieving family.
So if the spirit of all of our Anzacs is embodied in our flag and our anthem so too should the qualities that they held to represent the character of our nation.
Honour, humour, loyalty, a disdain of authority and officialdom, sacrifice, courage, determination, self sufficiency, initiative, compassion and the view that two things stood Australia apart and above all other nations --- the spirit of mateship and the spirit of fair go for all.
So I ask you when you sing our national anthem or reflect upon our flag to recognise too the spirit which makes them much more special than just a song or a piece of cloth.It is my view the sacrifice of the Anzacs warrants more than the justifiable recognition it receives on this special day.
Perhaps we a ought better honour our Anzacs in our daily lives with those same qualities of humour, Honour, sacrifice mateship and a fair go for all.
Indeed if those same qualities were practised by all of us, including our nation’s political, corporate, and civic leaders, then we could give surely give truth and meaning to the saying
We will remember them.
I also want to reflect on younger Australians.
The vast majority are great young Australians and I find them inspirational. Our challenge is to support, encourage, nurture, educate and protect our younger generations and work to ensure the sacrifices of our ANZACS in the past results in the peace and security of our nation; for our children and their children in the years ahead.
Anazac day had its origins in 1916 in the Middle East.
It was not something imposed by government, by generals or by admirals. The first Anzac commemoration came from the hearts and souls of those ordinary diggers who had fought at ANZAC Cove and survived. They simply wanted to remember their mates who did not.
The clear priority of the RSL is the well being of our veterans and members of the ADF.
However another clear priority is to continue to honour, remember and commemorate our fallen.
Anzac Day services all over Australia, in our country towns, our suburbs and our cities are organised mainly through RSL Sub-branches.
Ordinary rank and file members who have continued to this day the traditions started by our original Anzacs.
But I am concerned that long-lasting tradition may be in danger of being diminished. On the eve of the Centenary of Anzac I appeal to veterans from my era in Vietnam and younger veterans post 1975.
We need you to step up and take the burden from the older men and women of WW11 and Korea vintage .
They are in the main the people who have carried the responsibility for Anzac Day since the time of the demise of WW1 veterans. These same men and women are unbowed in spirit but now bowed by age and diminishing numbers.
They have met their responsibilities. They now need help. If Anzac Day traditions are to continue in some of our older suburbs and country towns, we need younger veterans and former service members to come forward and accept the traditions and responsibilities of Anzac Day.
In short we need you to pick up the baton.
As former memers of the ADF we know too well the sense of loss and sacrifice of those who went with us but did not come home.
Surely their exists a strength of our mateship and indeed a common bond which binds servicemen and women in a way which transcends all eras, all wars and all conflicts.We can talk about the heritage of mateship, the flag, and our National Anthem. But I suggest the strongest quality which glues those two symbols together is the spirit of Anzacs.
Indeed I ask what value or worth those two national icons hold for us without the heritage of the Anzacs to unite and weld them together into one inseperable symbol of nationhood.Fellow veterans, we are the recipients and custodians of a great Anzac heritage. We have added to the richness of that heritage with our own stories.
A strong and enduring RSL is the best way to ensure ongoing support for our veterans and younger ADF members.
A strong and enduring RSL is the best way to ensure the stories and legends of the ANZACS live on and are written indelibly into the future and character of our nation, our youth and indeed all Australians.In closing the words of US President John F Kennedy come to mind: As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words but to live by them. Lest We Forget.