(Australian Associated Press)
Thousands of people have descended on Sydney’s Martin Place to mark Remembrance Day.
NSW Premier Mike Baird and RSL state president Rod White were among the first to lay wreaths at the base of the cenotaph.
Mr White then delivered the Remembrance oath to crowds who stood silent at 11am on Wednesday in persistent rain, many cloaked in ponchos or huddled under umbrellas.
Hundreds of returned servicemen, women and their families were among those gathered on the 97th anniversary of the end of WWI.
Mr White said this year’s event, when Sydneysiders paused at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate victims of war since 1918, was unlike anything he had experienced in years.
“To see so many people, particularly young people, embrace our military heritage as a proud part of our history is something really special,” Mr White told AAP.
“At one stage there were so many people that you couldn’t see between Pitt and George streets, and hundreds of people stayed around long after the minute’s silence.”
Mr White said Remembrance Day was not just about honouring the more than 100,000 Australians who have died at war.
“These poppies are as much about the young servicemen and women returning from ongoing conflicts who are struggling to settle back into everyday life,” he said.
In his keynote address, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie paid tribute to Australians who have died and those left behind by conflicts, wars and peace-keeping missions.
“To all who have served and to all who have supported them, both during conflict and in the aftermath of that conflict, we remember and we rejoice in the clear knowledge that our wonderful country shows strength and advantage from your sacrifice,” he said.