Hundreds of people gathered under a starry sky next to the Queanbeyan cenotaph as the sun slowly began its ascent into the sky.
Sprawled across Monaro and Lowe Streets, they gathered to commemorate Anzac Day at the traditional dawn service.
In hushed voices they spoke while waiting for the ceremony to begin as the traffic and street lights were switched off throwing the crowd into darkness.
Many brought children and some even dogs to pay their respects and remember those who have served in the armed forces and those still serving.
The ceremony began with veterans and current military personnel marching up Monaro Street. Mayor Tim Overall, who completed two years of National Service during the Vietnam War, marched along with Cr Michele Biscotti, a former RAAF specialist ground soldier.
Several community leaders and groups laid wreaths followed by the sounding of the last post which cut through the still morning air.
Following the service many of those gathered for a Legacy-run breakfast at Walsh’s Hotel.
Queanbeyan resident John Burgess said after years of wanting to attend a dawn service he woke up early enough to get to this year’s ceremony.
“I’ve never been in a pub this early, first time for everything,” Mr Burgess said.
He said the dawn service had a different feel to it compared with the later ceremony.
“There’s a somberness to this, it’s quieter,” he said.
“It feels more about the event of war, about the men and women who go off to fight.”
The chaplain referenced the mental toll war can take on returned soldiers, and specifically mentioned suicide among veterans.
Mr Burgess said he was glad to see the pain many veterans experience acknowledged.
“These guys are out here hurting,” he said.
“I think that was the most significant thing for me in the whole ceremony.”
As people moved into Walsh’s the mood became considerably more cheery and the beer began flowing freely.
Legacy volunteer Wayne Blakey said he became involved to give back to the community especially on an important day in Australia.
He said everyone had been in great spirits and people had been particularly generous in their breakfast donations.
Legacy is a charity that provides support for the families of fallen defence force personnel.
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