AS the sun was rising, a man in a small dinghy cast a wreath into the sea  in what was the first ever observance of a dawn parade on Anzac Day back in 1923.

That was in Albany, Western Australia where the Reverend Arthur White, a padre with the 44th Battalion, First Australian Imperial force, led a party of friends to remember the fallen.

Today in Mooloolaba, Queensland, that spirit lived on as 3000 to 4000 people gathered on the beach to watch surf lifesaving boat crews lay wreaths on the water in honour of those for who fought with the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand.

The crowd stood in silence as the crew raised their oars as a mark of respect.

The service featured a montage of sounds and music from different conflict eras with the helicopter rumbles of Vietnam coming over the PA being so real that you couldn't help look to the sky.

Representatives of the Australian Army, Navy and Royal Australian Air Force laid wreaths along with Mooloolaba Junior Surf Lifesavers.

In his address, guest speaker Major Peter Rogers, DFC, Rtd, acknowledged the sacrifice of many while highlighting how the Gallipoli campaign was always doomed to fail.

The service opened with a traditional Maori call to the spirits of the dead warriors performed by Shelley Jansen as a message of thanks and calling them home.

She also performed the NZ national anthem while Keeley Young sang the Australian anthem.

The service also featured a poignant prayer read by surf girl Michelle Robinson (below)

Prayer for veterans

Dear Lord in Heaven, today we honour our war veterans

Those who have died, suffered and are still suffering because they gave their best when called to protect our, and others, freedoms, way of life and heritage.

They have been where others feared to go.

They have done what others failed to do.

They have seen the face of terror.

They have felt the stinging cold of fear.

And to those who remain with us still, let them know that we, the protected, as so very, very proud of them.

We ask you to watch over, guard and protect the men and women of our country, who this Anzac morning, are manning the ramparts and watchtowers of freedom in places far from home.

God, embrace them all and reserve a special place for them in Your Kingdom, amen.

Soldiers' tribute: We Won't Forget: Musician Peter Furler created this song to pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Soldiers' tribute: We Won't Forget: Musician Peter Furler created this song to pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The Ode

(From the poem To The Fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.