Victorians have turned out in droves to “recognize the service and sacrifice” of our serving men and women on an “incredibly special” Anzac Day. Watch the Sunrise Service from the Melbourne Shrine.
After two years of limited Anzac Day services and marches, hundreds of thousands of Australians attended dawn services across the country in a moving show of support for our veterans.
It comes as the captains of the football clubs that will draw masses of fans to the MCG on Monday say they are honored to play on Anzac Day.
A crowd of around 90,000 is expected for the Essendon-Collingwood showdown as players and fans come together in a way unique to Melbourne to recognize and celebrate the spirit of Anzac.
Meanwhile, crowds of up to 30,000 are expected at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance for the sunrise service, as services in Victoria also honored the sacrifices of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in conflicts abroad.
While he has played on the big stage many times before, Magpies captain Scott Pendlebury said standing in front of a packed MCG for the Anzac Day service was “unbelievable”.
“I always say, ‘Listen to that Last Message when everyone is quiet and take a moment to look around and appreciate what you’re about to go and do, and how lucky we are to do it on such a special day for the country,’ ” he said.
Bombers captain Dyson Heppell said some of his best memories came from Anzac Day.
“A hundred thousand people in complete silence, it’s a ridiculous feeling,” he said. “Something you can’t even describe. It is very special.
Magpies recruit Pat Lipinski said one of the first things the club mentioned when he signed was, ‘Oh, you can play on Anzac Day.’
“It’s the biggest game of the regular season, very exciting,” he said.
RSL Victoria President Robert Webster said this year’s Dawn Service was “highly significant” after two years of interruptions due to the Covid pandemic.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to do it without restrictions in three years,” he said.
“There will be a lot of people who will come out because of that principle.”
Pre-dawn train services will run on the metropolitan lines, with additional trams scheduled for St Kilda Rd. Thousands of people will also line St Kilda Rd for the Anzac Day parade from 9am, after that last year the number was limited to 7,500.
Daniel Andrews encouraged Victorians to turn out in droves to “recognize the service and sacrifice” of our serving men and women on an “incredibly special” day.
“Our values are on full display…and I’m sure there will be a very large crowd as we thank everyone who gave so, so much,” the prime minister said. “Then there will be the march, which we haven’t been able to have, obviously, for a period of time.”
Dr. Webster said that thousands of regional Victorians were also expected to attend the dawn services.
“Torquay is expecting up to 12,000…and Bendigo is expecting a big service at dawn because people are still out for school holidays and those regional services will be well supported,” he said.
In Gallipoli, a smaller than usual gathering of several hundred people will gather to honor the Anzacs.
Pride Band of Brothers in Service
The drive to serve the nation runs deep and proud in the Wells family.
More than 50 years after they volunteered to fight in Vietnam, the four brothers from Melbourne still feel honored to have worn their country’s uniform.
John Wells, 76, was the oldest to join the war as a signalman in the artillery regiment in 1967.
“We were proud to be volunteers and two-thirds of everyone who fought in Vietnam was a volunteer, although you tend to hear a lot about nasho (national service recruits),” he said.
But when he was in the war zone, those distinctions faded. “It was more about the type of person you were, not how you joined the military.”
John was followed two years later by his half-brother Simon Bloomer, now 74, who served as a postal clerk in the service corps, but the vagaries of war meant he saw more action from either brother, says John. Andrew Wells, 72, arrived in Vietnam in 1970 as an infantryman, while David, 71, was due to fly in 1972 but broke his leg playing rugby. On Anzac Day, the four brothers will gather at Dandenong RSL, where John is Chairman, to reflect and exchange stories with men from both sides of the old battle lines.
Originally published as encouraged Victorians to participate in force for Anzac Day