More than half a century after he was plucked from a Queensland property and sent to a warzone, a Newcastle Vietnam veteran says he believes the Anzac spirit will live forever.
Thousands of people paid their respect while the sun slowly appeared over Newcastle on Monday morning, as the Nobbys dawn service marked the return of commemorations for crowds for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck more than two years ago.
Poems, prayers, hymns and crashing waves provided the soundtrack to the solemn morning of reflection, as wreaths were placed and service people - past and present - marched.
Among them was Newcastle resident Ted Anderson.
Mr Anderson told the Newcastle Herald he was a jackaroo in Queensland in 1970 when, at the age of 21, he was conscripted fight in Vietnam.
When asked how long his tour lasted, Mr Anderson said "11 months, three weeks and 36 hours".
He said "everybody just stood up and cheered" on board the plane that brought he and others home, as it touched down in Sydney.
Mr Anderson said it was good to have crowds commemorating Anzac Day again after two years of COVID-19 disruptions.
"It's just amazing," he said.
"To see the amount of children who get involved and understand it, I don't think Anzac Day will ever die.
"I think it's really moving that younger people are coming to understand it all."
City of Newcastle RSL Sub-branch president Ken Fayle said an estimated 28,000 to 30,000 people gathered for the dawn commemoration at Nobbys.
During the service, Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Anzac Day was a time to reflect on the role of Australian forces in preserving and protecting peace throughout the world.
She also paid tribute to the citizens of Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
"Unfortunately, since we were last able to hold this service in person, war has once again erupted in Europe," she said.
"The City of Newcastle stands with Ukraine and our wonderful local Ukrainian community in condemning the unjust and ongoing catastrophic aggression of Russia.
"The example of the people of Ukraine, who are fighting against overwhelming odds to protect their country and to ensure their democratic nation continues to exist, is a lesson to us all.
"No matter how much we strive to live in peace, there may always be forces - for no just reason - that try to destabilise and exert their will over innocent people, regardless of the physical and financial costs."
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