The characteristics of war might have changed over the past century but those deployed to serve our country still risk being killed in action, or left with physical and psychological scars.
That was the poignant reminder delivered by Captain Nic Kenter, a commanding officer with the Australian Army's Royal NSW Regiment, during Wollongong's Anzac Day dawn service on Thursday.
Young and old, the large crowd stood side-by-side in reflection - honouring the men and women who made extraordinary sacrifices in times of war.
All eyes were fixed on the cenotaph at MacCabe Park, which was illuminated against the dark early-morning sky.
Later, the sound of the Last Post cut through the air and the crowd fell quiet for a minute's silence on the country's most solemn of days.
"Australians gather like this to honour those who have made extraordinary sacrifice in times of war and in particular to honour the Australians who have made the ultimate sacrifice," Captain Kenter told the crowd.
The commanding officer used sobering statistics as he described how war had taken its toll on Australia; 102,000 service personnel have been killed in action, pre and post the first Anzac Day, 226,000 were injured and 34,000 taken prisoner.
"These figures do not reflect the impact of post-war casualties; those yielding to physical injury and those suffering what used to be called 'shell shock', now called post traumatic stress disorder," he said.
"As I speak here this morning, thousands of Australian personnel - including army reservists from here in Wollongong - are deployed on operations in the defense of Australia and its interests.
"They serve in Iraq and in Afghanistan, they serve on United Nations missions and they protect Australia's borders and maritime interests.
"The characteristics of war have changed over the last century or so, but the fundamental fact still remains; those deployed are at risk of being killed in action or they, like many of their predecessors, can return from operations with physical and psychological trauma.
"Knowing this, amazingly our service personnel continue to volunteer to serve. Our thoughts are with these deployed personnel and their loved ones.
"Indeed our thoughts remain with every Australian veteran - soldier, sailor or airman - whenever or wherever they have served.
"Their service secures our freedom; we are forever in their debt and we will always remember them."
Vietnam veteran John Kiley knows what it was like to experience war.
As the president of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Veterans' Association's (TPI) Illawarra branch, he's also well aware of the need to acknowledge both the physical and mental scars of war.
"As we know, a lot of the things you can see visibly - that someone's got a back or an arm or a leg [problem], but psychologically you really can't tell by looking at someone," Mr Kiley said.
"They look OK, but are they OK?"
TPI was about "being there for each other and just letting people ... tell their stories" in a social setting, the 72-year-old, who served as a sapper in the Royal Australian Engineers, said.
Mr Kiley said Anzac Day was a day of reflection.
"Being a returned serviceman, I never put myself in the same light as the early soldiers, World War 1, and what they would have had in their time and what they put up with, but it really means a lot to remember the fallen," he said.
"We never glorify war, was we know, we just come together."
Later on Thursday, Mr Kiley will be joined at the march by his grandson, who will have his great, great grandfather's medals proudly pinned to his chest.
The involvement of young people in Anzac Day marches must never diminish, the veteran said.
"They tried to discourage a lot of that a few years ago but I think the nail got hit on the head," he said.
"That's another issue that we've got to look into, that we never stop that [kids marching with parents or grandparents].
"We've got to encourage the young people because we'll be gone ... and there won't be a lot of veterans hanging about [so] the kids will have to do this for us."