'Sad reminder': Veteran's haunting message on Anzac Day as thousands remember the fallen

A veteran has shared a haunting message about the impact of war as thousands of Australians have gathered to remember our fallen servicemen and women.

Afghanistan veteran Andy Cullen spoke in the shadow of iconic Elephant Rock to 20,000 people who had gathered on the Gold Coast for Anzac Day’s dawn service.

Mr Cullen said more than 33,000 Australians had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving 41 people dead and 261 wounded.

"No one can underestimate the price that has been paid by individuals and families... because there are hundreds, if not thousands, who are carrying the physical and psychological injuries and will do for years to come,” he said.

"We must do more to help the individuals and families who suffer.

A trio standing during the Anzac Day dawn service at Elephant Rock, Currumbin Beach on the Gold Coast on Thursday. Source: AAP

"It is a sad reminder of friends lost and sacrifices made and wounds that may not heal.”

He added from 2001 to 2016 there were 373 recorded suicides in the ADF community.

Currumbin RSL president Mark Humphreys said war stole the innocence of a nation.

Thousands have gathered at Anzac Day dawn services around the country.

Australian Army veteran Peter Rabula is seen posing for a photograph after the Anzac Day dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Anzac Square in Brisbane. Source: AAP

The Elephant Rock was bathed in the red light at dawn, reminiscent of the soaring cliffs of Gallipoli.

The crowd was crammed on to the beach and lined the streets, breaking their silence only to applaud the arrival of a host of veterans.

The service, one of the biggest regional services in Queensland, began with a lone piper from the top of the rock where Australian and New Zealand flags flew at half mast on Thursday.

The service concluded with an emotional burial at sea where the ashes of 33 servicemen were scattered on the waves by rowers from surf lifesaving clubs.

People are seen laying flowers at the Shrine of Remembrance during the Anzac Day dawn service in Anzac Square in Brisbane. Source: AAP

Families huddled together for the emotional final farewell to so many who served their country.

The service was marked with a signature flyby of vintage aircraft.

‘It’s my way of remembering Dad’

Thousands of people from Sydney and beyond crammed into Martin Place for the Anzac Day dawn service.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Governor David Hurley and the Army's second-highest official Major General Greg Bilton were among those at The Cenotaph from 4.30am.

"I used to come here years ago and it'd be a couple hundred people but now it's thousands," Terrance Coffey, the son of a World War II veteran, told AAP on Thursday.

"It's my way of remembering Dad. Anzac Day was the way he got together with all his mates from the war."

Australians should all aim to be worthy of the sacrifices made for them by the nation's servicemen and women, according to a recipient of the country's highest military honour.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian arrives for the Anzac Day Dawn Service at The Cenotaph in Sydney. Source: AAP

‘Living a good life in support of others’

A decade ago, Corporal Mark Donaldson became the first recipient of the Victoria Cross in more than 40 years.

That honour came a few months after he rescued a coalition forces interpreter from heavy fire in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

But at the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, it was the sacrifices of others of which he spoke.

Those included the actions of oldest living Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne aged 85.

The Anzac Day dawn service in front of the perpetual flame at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. Source: AAP

He received the honour for rescuing fellow soldiers while under enemy fire and suffering his own injuries during the Battle of Ben Het in 1969.

Corporal Donaldson said all Australians had an obligation to such people.

"We honour their sacrifice by living a good life in support of others, respecting the freedoms given us and inspiring others to build a better Australia and a stronger Anzac spirit," he told a crowd of thousands of people.

"We should strive to be worthy of these sacrifices made for us."

Crowds gather during the Anzac Day dawn service in front of the perpetual flame at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. Source: AAP

Before the service began, three serving members read out passages from the letters and diaries of Australians who experienced war first-hand.

That came as images of troops were projected across the front columns of the memorial.

‘They live with us today’

As the sun rose over the Coral Sea, thousands of veterans, serving soldiers and airforce members and their families watched prime minister Scott Morrison lay a wreath in remembrance of those who went before them.

Mr Morrison spoke of his grandfather, a WWII veteran, and two soldiers killed in the Afghanistan conflict, Private Benjamin Ranaudo, and Sergeant Brett Till.

"Our heroes don't just belong to the past; they live with us today," he said.

"They are a generation who also deserve to be remembered and honoured here today.

"The call of the original Anzacs echoes on their chests today."

A member of the Catafalque party during Anzac Day Dawn services at Anzac Memorial Park in Townsville. Source: AAP

Thousands gather in Perth

More than 20,000 people have gathered at Kings Park State War Memorial in Perth for the Anzac Day dawn service.

Among the dignitaries attending are West Australian Governor Kim Beazley, while Premier Mark McGowan will deliver the address.

The service will also be viewed on six large screens surrounding the commemorative site where there appears to be a boosted security presence.

Afterwards, there will be a Haka for Life performance at Kings Park and a gunfire breakfast at Government House Gardens preceding the annual city march.

Anzac spirit ‘must be shielded’

Anzac Day and its values must be protected from "unthinking nationalism" spread by those who do not properly understand the commemoration, Adelaide's dawn service has been told.

As the sun rose on Thursday, thousands gathered at the South Australian National War Memorial and spilled down North Terrace to mark Australia's national day of remembrance.

Ian Smith, chair of the RSL SA's Anzac Day committee, highlighted the service of the migrant community, who he said sometimes had to overcome the restrictions of the White Australia policy and the Defence Act in order to enlist.

Medals worn by a veteran are seen during the Anzac Day Dawn Service at The Cenotaph in Sydney. Source: AAP

"Recent migrants from many nations have a strong record of service in the Australian armed services that continues today," he told the crowd.

"Some had already served Australia before coming here, like the Afghan interpreters who are now proud South Australians."

Mr Smith warned against using the Anzac traditions to promote thoughtless nationalism.

"We must also be wary of those that seek to misuse the service and sacrifice of our men and women to promote their own narrow agendas," he said.

"Such actions are unwelcome and we must protect ourselves and our ANZAC traditions from them."

Members of the 324 Squadron stand in formation during the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Coogee Beach in Sydney. Source: AAP

He said Anzac Day has a single focus - "the commemoration of Australian and New Zealand men and women who offered and often sacrificed their lives in our name".

The 2019 service also recognised the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I.

Among those who laid wreaths on Thursday were Premier Steven Marshall, Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas, Chief Justice Chris Kourakis and Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.

The service, which lasted about 50 minutes, concluded with the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand.

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