With no surviving WWI diggers to commemorate Anzac Day, it was the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the men and women who served in that conflict who joined thousands at the Cenotaph in Sydney's Martin Place for the dawn service.
The patter of military drums rang out over a sea of lowered heads and the dark, clear sky added to the sense of solemnity on Wednesday morning.
It was on this day that Australia's identity was forged. It is the Anzac spirit that shows us not who we intrinsically are, but who we want to be
A prayer for the troubled world opened the service and those assembled were asked to think of those in active service today in Afghanistan, the Middle East, East Timor, the Solomons and Southern Sudan.
Commemoration at the Cenotaph ... dawn service at Martin Place. Photo: Peter Rae
Guest speaker Rear Admiral Tim Barrett AM paid tribute to the courage, resilience and sacrifice of the Anzacs.
More than 16,000 men landed on Anzac Cove on the first day of the landing, 2000 of whom lost their lives.
"It was on this day that Australia's identity was forged,'' Admiral Barrett said.
Anzac Day: dawn services around the world
Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivers her address during the Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site, Gallipoli. Photo: Andrew Dakin
"It is the Anzac spirit that shows us not who we intrinsically are, but who we want to be.''
Lieutenant-Governor of NSW Tom Bathurst QC paid tribute before joining guests, including Premier Barry O'Farrell, in laying a wreath on the Cenotaph.
"We gather to think of those who went up the battlefield wall and did not return,'' Mr Bathurst said.
The assembly was again enveloped in darkness as the lights were turned off for the bugle call for Last Post and a minute of silent reflection.
The Sydney ceremony ended with a rendition of "There Is No Death'' by the Sydney Male Choir.
This year marks the 97th anniversary of the day Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli.
The dawn service begins a day of events to commemorate those who served as Anzacs, beginning with the First World War.
However about 20,000 ex-servicemen are expected to take part in the Anzac Day march.
Across the state, the courage and sacrifice of indigenous warriors will also be given particular recognition this Anzac Day, with the Returned and Service League (RSL) conducting special ceremonies.
Sub-branches in Corrimal, Wollongong, Walcha, Tamworth, Nambucca and Kempsey-Macleay have all agreed to include Aboriginal elements in their ANZAC Day commemorations.
Elders will lay wreaths and speak about the particular sense of loss that indigenous families felt when relatives were killed and buried overseas.
"Those sub-branches adapting their ANZAC Day services to honour our Aboriginal servicemen are displaying the true spirit of comradeship and support that is the core principle of the RSL," NSW RSL president Don Rowe said in a statement.
The family of Private Frank Richard Archibald family, an Aboriginal digger from NSW's north coast who was shot dead by a Japanese sniper during the Battle of Kokoda when he was 27, have travelled to the Bomana War Cemetery, on the outskirts of Port Moresby, near the start of the Kokoda Track, to honour their fallen relative and five other Aboriginal servicemen.
They will conduct a special ceremony using the Gumbaynggirr language to bring Private Archibald's spirit home.
"This will help our family to heal and support us to bring the spirit of Private Frank back to Gumbaynggirr country, where he belongs," his brother Richard said in a statement.