Former prime minister John Howard paid tribute to the "extraordinary sacrifice" of the nation's war dead and said troops being deployed to Iraq stood on the shoulders of Anzacs during a Remembrance Day service in Canberra.
More than 3900 people, hundreds more than last year, turned out at the national ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on Tuesday to remember those who served in armed conflicts.
Mr Howard delivered this year's commemorative address to mark the 96th anniversary of the World War I armistice.
"We honour first and foremost the extraordinary sacrifice of more than 102,000 Australians who have died in defence of the values of this country and in defence of this country.
"We also gather to honour the spirit of Australia which has moved this nation not to go to war to conquer and to subjugate but rather to defend the vulnerable and defend the values of which this nation has also proudly stood."
Mr Howard said World War I centenary commemorations should pay tribute to "the tremendous sacrifice and the loss and the depletion of the manhood of Australia during that terrible conflict".
He pointed to the deployment of troops to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and said Australia had never sought to be an aggressor in armed conflicts, but rather to defend the nation's values and way of life.
"And so it is, my fellow Australians, as we contemplate the latest military involvement of the armed forces of this country.
"Our mission in Iraq, wherever it may ultimately lead, is a mission stimulated by the sense of horror and outrage that so many Australians in so many walks of life and across the political divide feel about the obscene behaviour of those who seek to justify murder and destruction, obscenely, in the name of religion."
"And as we contemplate that mission and we understand the extraordinary heroism that will be involved and the great professional valour that will be accompanying the men and women of the Australian Defence Force as they go on their path, let us remember that they stand on the shoulders of their Anzac forebears and they carry in their mission the same values of this country as did their forebears."
Mr Howard also paid tribute to Lance Corporal Todd Chidgey, who was the latest Australian soldier to be added to the nation's honour roll.
The commando was on his sixth tour of duty Afghanistan when he died, aged 29, in a non-combat related incident on July 1.
"As we gather today we should also remember there is no hierarchy of sacrifice among Australia's war dead," Mr Howard said.
"His sacrifice and his contribution to the liberty of Australia stands equal to the contribution to every loss of Australian life that had gone before.
"Because we recognise in equal measure the contribution and the sacrifice no matter what the conflict may be."
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is in Beijing for the APEC summit, did not attend Tuesday's service.
He described the nation's World War I effort as "sacrifice on a stupendous scale" in an address earlier this week.
"From a population of under five million, 417,000 enlisted, 332,000 served overseas, 152,000 were wounded and 61,000 never came home,"
Mr Abbott was represented by Veterans Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Defence Force chief Mark Binskin and members of the diplomatic corp were among dignitaries.
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and children from St Clare's College in Canberra were among those who laid floral tributes.