Thousands of people turned out to commemorations across Shellharbour City to mark the 99th anniversary of Anzac Day.
The Dawn Service organised by the Warilla RSL Sub-Branch at the Shellharbour Village War Memorial attracted a crowd of between 1000-1500, while hundreds more turned out to the Shellharbour council service at Shellharbour City Memorial.
At the Shellharbour City service, numerous community groups laid wreaths at the memorial and historical military aircraft conducted a fly-past.
''Peter Fulton used to say 'remember the warrior not the war’ and that’s the message of what today is about.''
Long-time Warilla RSL Sub–Branch member and current vice-president Don Briggs said it was pleasing to see the crowds at the services growing each year.
‘‘The one that has grown the most is the Dawn Service at Shellharbour Village, there somewhere between 1000 and 1500 people there this morning, when we started a few years ago there was four of us there,’’ he said.
‘‘The Shellharbour Village memorial is the only actual memorial in the city and it’s great that the public are coming out to pay their respects in front of it, you look at the people laying wreaths and you can see the enormous sense of pride they have for their country and for the men and women who have served.’’
Warilla RSL Sub-Branch president Kim Kearney presided over the Shellharbour City service and said the large crowds were evident of how entrenched Anzac Day has become in the national calendar.
‘‘Every year more and more people are turning up and it’s great to see, everywhere you go across Australia you’ll see crowds like this and it shows just how much of a national day Anzac Day has become,’’ he said.
‘‘Even though next year is the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day, crowds like this show that that the sacrifice of those in World War I is never going to be forgotten.’’
While the day may be the anniversary of the first landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli during World War I, Mr Kearney said it was as much about recognising all Australian service men and women as it is those who fought nearly 100 years ago.
‘‘The day is about remembrance, and that’s remembering everybody who has fought for their country, no matter when and where that was.
‘‘What Peter Fulton used to always say at the service at Wollongong was ‘remember the warrior not the war’ and that’s the message of what today is about, remembering the sacrifices people have made for us and for this country.’’
Shellharbour City Mayor Marianne Saliba said it was encouraging to see the number of young attending the services.
‘‘Each year more and more young people are attending and that’s great to see, it’s important we pass on what people have done for this country in the past so that future generations understand that the freedoms we have today have been hard fought for.’’