Hillary Clinton's Anzac tribute
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has paid tribute to New Zealand and Australian forces as Kiwis prepare to mark Anzac Day around the world.
In a statement released by the United States Embassy in Wellington, Clinton said she was "delighted to send best wishes" to both countries on Anzac Day.
Speaking on behalf of US President Barack Obama, Clinton said "today we pay tribute to all the men and women in the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand who have served with dedication, courage, and sacrifice.
"We remember those who have given their lives and the families and friends who mourn them - they are the heroes who we honour every day by working to make our world safer and more secure.
"This year, as we commemorate Anzac Day, we also remember those brave soldiers who were working for peace seventy years ago. At that time, the Pacific faced an uncertain future, but American, Australian, and New Zealand troops joined together and stood up for the tenets of democracy.
"Because of their sacrifices and dedication, today we enjoy countless freedoms. As we commemorate Anzac Day, we must recommit ourselves to their mission: the pursuit of freedom, prosperity, and democracy throughout the world."
Crowds have given war veterans a standing ovation as they, their families, and military personnel marched away from the New Brighton pier in Christchurch today.
The service was just one of scores around the country - and the world - where Kiwis stopped to remember the sacrifices of military men and women who have fought overseas.
During the service, Labour MP Lianne Dalziel read Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae's speech from when he presented the Anzac of the Year award to the Student Volunteer Army last night.
The speech highlighted how the spirit of the Anzacs was alive in current generations.
WWII veteran Maurice Makinson, 91, said it was great to see the spirit of the Anzacs still alive.
His wife, Olive, agreed: "It's lovely to think that it's so relevant to young people these days."
The service also served as a reminder of those who went missing and were never found, she said.
Earlier, Jock McPhail, a 93-year-old war veteran laid a poppy at Christchurch's Victoria Park memorial.
As he did so, his thoughts were with his fallen friends.
McPhail, a former World War II gunner and 19th Armoured Regiment captain, was amazed by the hundreds of people who were at the morning service.
"It's just a wonderful occasion. The support is overwhelming."
He was one of four WWII veterans who paid their respects for their fallen comrades at the service.
McPhail's family attended the service to support their dad, grandad and great-grandad.
"I'm much reliant on our guardians and my family to keep things going."
'WE DARE NOT FORGET'
The toll of fallen soldiers and airmen has grown each year for the past few but the memories of those lost have not faded.
In Wellington, thousands swarmed around the Cenotaph at dawn to honour the soldiers who sacrificed their lives.
"Though there would be much we would rather forget ... we dare not forget the spirit of the Anzac tradition," Chaplain Commandant Peter Savage said in his opening prayer.
The French Ambassador to New Zealand Francis Etienne told the crowd nearly 3000 Kiwis died on the desolate shores of Gallipoli in Turkey on April 25, 1915.
He also reminded people that more than 8000 Australians lost their lives and about 10,000 Frenchmen also died.
Dwindling veteran numbers were boosted by younger generations walking alongside those who fought for our nation's freedom in the parade.
Adrianna Blair has never experienced war but wears her grandad Gordon Stirling's World War II medals with pride.
"I just think it's really important that people remember. We don't have people in society that have been part of the war and I think attitudes have changed. I think people take things for granted a bit more than they used to."
The Hutt Valley woman marched with her mother, Barbara Millar, and her grandad's cobbers, whose chests were adorned with medals and a lone poppy.
Millar said her father, who fought in the 20th Battalion, would have been proud of them.
"It means representing my dad because he would be so proud and he would want us to be here with these guys."
The city's dawn service was attended by Defence Force Chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones along with Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
The two will be at the National Commemorative Service in Wellington, alongside the chiefs of the air force, army and navy.
Jones said Anzac Day was a day not only to commemorate Gallipoli, but for communities to reflect upon the lives of their ancestors and loved-ones who had served New Zealand.
Also at the ceremony was Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Wellington Central MP Grant Roberston, and Education Minister Hekia Parata.
The last post was played after wreaths were laid on behalf of the Wellington RSA, the Australia Defence Force, the Australian Government and Turkey's Government.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said the dozens of commemorations held throughout the country and overseas acknowledge the courage and sacrifices forged by New Zealand and Australian defence staff stretching from Gallipoli, 97 years ago, to the present day.
"This Anzac Day New Zealanders will remember the past, and the contribution of all our personnel in the years since the Gallipoli landings. I know they will also be mindful of the commitment and service to New Zealand being shown by the current generation of Anzacs."
Up to 300 people were expected to attend a mid-morning service at the tiny settlement of Tinui, near Masterton, where the first Anzac Day ceremony was held in 1916.
For university student Joy Lancaster Anzac Day was about remembering those who died during battle in the hope of never seeing war on that scale again.
"It's not glorifying it, it's remembering and honouring at the same time.
"I think it's an important thing to remember, that so many people died and I just hope something like that doesn't happen again.
'TODAY WE HONOUR AND REMEMBER'
In Christchurch, a cross made of wood rescued from the ruined Christ Church Cathedral made a poignant memorial.
Made by members of the Australian RSL from the wood of the cathedral and placed on the city's cenotaph, was a reminder of Christchurch's deadly February 22 2011 earthquake.
Among the thousands of people who stood silently as the Anzac parade made its way into Christchurch's Cranmer Square was veteran Alan Bean, who proudly displayed his three war medals.
The 78-year-old served in Vietnam and every Anzac Day took time to remember those friends and family members who died serving their country.
Unfortunately, a knee injury stopped Bean from taking part in the parade.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker started the ceremonies by welcoming people.
"Today we honour and remember."
In Auckland, around 10,000 people crowded every vantage spot at the Auckland War Memorial Museum for the Anzac Day dawn service there.
Prime minister John Key, as well as Deputy Chief of Navy Commodore Wayne Burroughs, were at the ceremony.
It was the 73rd continuous year the dawn service has been held at the Cenotaph overlooking the Waitemata.
Mayor Len Brown, who placed the first cross in the nearby field of remembrance, said the day was dedicated to the ideals of democracy and freedom.
The morning recalled those who gave their lives: "We feel them near us, in spirit."
The diminishing band of war veterans were accompanied by a large military contingent, including officers and sailors from a visiting Australian frigate, HMAS Newcastle.
The half-hour service ended as an RNZAF C130 Hercules passed in salute low over the museum - toward a near-perfect dawn.
St John's ambulance treated at least four people, including a woman who fell over and dislocated her shoulder. Several others fainted and were taken to the neighbouring Auckland Hospital.
LIGHT AFTER THE DARKNESS
The sound of Iroquois helicopters was heard in Palmerston North as they signalled the beginning of the city's Anzac Day dawn service.
As the helicopters swooped over the top of the thousands of people gathered at the cenotaph in the Square in cool, still conditions, silence fell over the crowd.
Reverend Jenny Watson addressed those gathered with a Maori greeting and a hymn was sung accompanied by Palmerston North City Brass.
Watson said the time of day for the service was appropriate - "that time of light after the darkness".
''The new dawn brought them to their deaths before the next day dawned," she said of the soldiers at Gallipoli.
She recounted the soldiers' struggles; the dirt, misery, loneliness, terror, hunger and despair.
Many at the service could see nothing because of the sheer volume of people. They stood behind trees, monuments and walls, but they appeared not to mind.
They listened in silence, rugged up in beanies and coats, remembering.
Watson said it was not only those who lost their lives who needed to be remembered, but also those who had been damaged in body and spirit.
The laying of the wreaths commenced to the backing track of lone bagpiper Ian Steffert, and representatives from the armed forces, veterans and even the Australian High Commission laid wreaths.
The crack of 13 guns going off three times sent a shockwave through the crowd before the Ode of Remembrance was read by Palmerston North RSA patron Arthur Lockwood.
The services in the region were particularly poignant, as the community remembered five of their own who had been killed in military service in the past two years.
Today marked the second anniversary of the Anzac Day crash in which Flight Lieutenant Hayden Peter Madsen, 33, co-pilot Flying Officer Daniel Stephen Gregory, 28, and crewman Corporal Benjamin Andrew Carson, 25, were killed when the Iroquois they were in crashed into the side of a hill at Pukerua Bay.
Sergeant Stevin Creeggan, 37, survived but suffered serious injuries.
The men were part of a formation of air force helicopters taking part in flyovers for dawn services, and had just flown past Palmerston North's parade, on their way to Wellington, when they crashed.
In August last year, SAS soldier Doug Grant, 41, from Tokomaru, was killed after an attack by the Taleban at the British Council diplomatic offices.
Grant died in the country's capital, Kabul, helping save the lives of three British civilians and two Gurkha security guards.
Lieutenant Timothy Andrew O'Donnell, 28, from Feilding, was killed in August 2010.
He and two of his fellow soldiers were injured when their patrol was ambushed in the province of Bamiyan.
CALL TO ARMS
The call to arms by New Zealand servicemen in 1914-18 heralded responsibility for New Zealand from which to this day it has never shirked, Major General Ken (Scotty) Gordon, CVE, said in Rotorua today.
Major General Gordon, from Christchurch, was addressing a record 3500 people which packed into Muruika Cemetery at the Anzac day dawn service at Ohinemutu.
The Malay veteran and former Deputy Chief of Defence Staff said New Zealanders had been involved in conflicts in 16 countries around the world in 70 of the last 100 years.
Many New Zealanders have been touched by the conflicts, Gordon said. It is important to remember those in what whatever guises.
Local veterans in Rotorua could not recall a larger turnout out, while one remembered that in recent memory he was only one of 40 of a crowd which attended a local Anzac Day commemoration.
Arthur Midwood and Puhi Patara, two of the last five surviving members of the 28th Maori Battalion B Company, attended the parade.
Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker said she was moved by the record crowds who broke out in spontaneous applause as the annual Anzac parade marched to the Cenotaph at Memorial Park in Hamilton.
"When I ask myself why so many more people turn out these days, I think that it's because of the number of conflicts around the world at the moment - it makes us all realise how lucky we are in New Zealand thanks to the sacrifices our soldiers have made in the past," Hardaker said.
Thousands attended this morning's dawn service where The Last Post was played by Belgian man Raf Decombel.
"I was invited here by the city of Hamilton to play, I love New Zealand - your soldiers came from the other side of the world to fight for our country and for that I am eternally gratefully, as are my fellow countrymen," Decombel said.
People of all ages filed toward the war memorial to place poppies and letters of thanks following the service, while a youth choir from Temple View gave an impromptu and stirring performance of Teach me to Walk in the Light.
At the bottom of the South Island, people turned out in the thousands to commemmorate the fallen at Anzac Day services.
Dawn services, parades and memorial gatherings of all sizes were held in most southern towns, as wreaths, poppies and crosses were placed beneath family names at cenotaphs.
Calm skies and little wind apparently helped turnout, with most centres reporting higher than normal attendances.
The Invercargill cenotaph was flanked on all sides by attendees at the dawn service, which was punctuated by cannon fire and planes flying in formation overhead.
In Bluff, armed service personnel, veterans and emergency service personnel walked from the town's RSA clubrooms to the cenotaph, while the turnout for the Gore service was the largest in recent history.