AS THE dawn light broke around the globe, the spirit of the Anzacs was almost palpable as Australians gathered to remember the sacrifices of those who have fought for our nation.

Whether it was at memorials and cenotaphs in capital cities and country towns, Gallipoli or Papua New Guinea, thousands of Australians stopped for a moment of silent reverence.

In Queensland's garrison city Townsville, Prime Minister Julia Gillard told ABC the commemoration was now being driven by children.

She said she believed children were driving the next level of engagement on the day, to show for all time, Australians would pause to commemorate the day and reflect on who they were.

The daughter of Welsh immigrants, Ms Gillard said for her, the day was more about reflecting on the spirit of being Australian and the nation's history.

In Thailand, at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Defence Minister Stephen Smith spoke of the more than 2,800 Australian prisoners of war who died on the Thai-Burma Railway.

He said the head stones along rows of silent graves told a story of a generation lost.

"They were not alone then. They are not alone here today," he said.

At the Gallipoli memorial in Turkey, Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon spoke of the more than 100,000 Anzacs and Turkish soldiers who died in the fierce battle.

"How difficult it is today in the peace and serenity of the dawn's early light; to contemplate the epic nature and ferocity of the battles here in 1915," he said.

"These craggy ravines and ridges, this countryside, this sacred ground is the final home of so many souls.

"Those lost ANZAC sons now rest forever safely here alongside those they fought; at peace together; in the care of the Turkish people."

In Canberra, Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith read out messages from the troops to the more than 30,000 gathered at the dawn service.

"The old fighting for Queen and country garbage goes out the window. You do it for your mates," one read.

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