Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked Australians to pay their respects this Anzac Day despite interruptions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The national Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra was closed to the public but broadcast to homes across the country from 5.30am on Saturday.
Mr Morrison drew on the words of his wartime predecessor John Curtin as he gave the address to the crowd-free commemorative service.
‘Here in Canberra, on this day, 75 years ago and the midst of war, our then Prime Minister John Curtin, called for every citizen to give equal measure of devotion, what our servicemen and women give every day,’ he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Jenny Morrison lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier during the Anzac Day commemorative service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra
‘He reminded Australia that the original Anzacs handed on a torch, clenched and carried high, and that is passed on to every generation of Australians.
‘This Anzac Day, it’s been passed to us. And so together, with faith in each other, and guided by the lives and examples of those who’ve gone before, we grasp that torch and we raise it high again lighting up the Anzac dawn. Lest we forget.’
Mr Morrison delivered his speech alongside the roll of honour, which marks the names of 102,000 men and women who have died in service.
‘On these walls, we touch and see the names of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, who gave their lives for this country and the people they loved,’ he said.
‘Through these 102,000 men and women, and the millions more who’ve worn our nation’s uniform, we come to understand what love of family, community and country truly means.
‘The service and sacrifice we remember today has always been expressed in hardship, on the beaches of Gallipoli, the deserts of Egypt, the mud of the Somme, the jungles of New Guinea, the death marches.
Mr Morrison encouraged Australians to channel the spirt of the Anzacs and unite together during times of crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic
‘Australians have faced the very worst and they have done so for us.’
Anzac Day marches across the country have been cancelled due to the health crisis, while a small number of services have been closed to the public.
Mr Morrison said this was not the first time Anzac Day commemorations had been disrupted by a pandemic.
‘This year, our Anzac Day traditions have been interrupted, but not for the first time,’ he said.
‘On Anzac Day 1919, the first after the Great War, there were no city marches or parades for the returning veterans because Australians were battling the Spanish flu pandemic.
‘Our streets were empty. The returning veterans were not forgotten.’
Governor-General of Australia David Hurley and Prime Minister Scott Morrison after the Anzac Day Commemorative Service on Saturday morning
Australians were encouraged to hold their own Anzac Day services by lighting a candle and standing on their driveways to pay their respect.
Veterans and their families usually gather at the Australian War Memorial to mark the annual service.
Speaking ahead of Anzac Day, Mr Morrison agreed this year’s commemorations would be like ‘none of us have ever experienced’.
‘I look forward to the entire nation, on their driveways, lighting up the dawn, remembering our heroes and drawing inspiration from them for the task and challenge we currently face,’ he said on Friday.
Mr Morrison and his wife Jenny walk through the empty Australian War Memorial on Saturday morning