At the breaking of dawn on 25 April 2024, 40,000 Victorians paused to honour those who have served, and continue to serve, bravely for our country.

ANZAC Day is a time for Australians to recognise the service of everyone who has fought in all global conflicts, and those who continue to serve.

Here are the stories of those who served, those who supported, and those who helped keep the ANZAC spirit alive this ANZAC Day:

Kenneth Pomphrey

Photo by Rob Blackburn
Photo by Rob Blackburn

Kenneth Pomphrey’s five years in the Army Reserves opened his eyes to the great connection and mateship shared by those who serve for Australia.

Attending the Dawn Service with his family, Kenneth said it was important for his children to understand the sacrifices made by those who gave it all for our freedoms.

“It’s about making sure the kids understand the history and know where it all came from, the sacrifice and the legacy,” he said.

During the one minute of silence, Kenneth said he liked to reflect on how fortunate he is to have freedom in Australia, thanks to the ANZACs, and those who came after them.

Dave Angeles

Photo by Rob Blackburn
Photo by Rob Blackburn

The first time Dave Angeles learnt about the iconic Aussie spread Vegemite was when he was caring for war widows and veterans – he learnt his best life lessons from those who had been through some of the toughest of circumstances.

Dave said on days like ANZAC Day, he likes to remember those he cared for, and what they gave in the decades prior.

“It was all the people that had not been documented and had not been given all the commendations, the medals and all the admiration,” he said.

“Those people sacrificed their lives more than anything.”

Paris Rigney

Photo by Meg Gannon
Photo by Meg Gannon

Leading Aircraftwoman Paris Rigney has served in the Royal Australia Air Force for five years and, like many, follows generations of service in her own family.

She says ANZAC Day is the perfect opportunity for her to reflect on those who came before her, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“Personally, I like to think of everyone that's fallen, again remembering who is currently serving and who has served before,” she said.

“I personally like to remember my grandfather, who served in World War II.”

Gavin Freeman

Photo by Rob Blackburn
Photo by Rob Blackburn

Gavin Freeman’s mum has been coming to Dawn Services since she was a little girl, in honour of her father, a World War II veteran, and her brother, a Vietnam veteran.

Her son Gavin carries on this legacy, along with his son Mason, who wore a hat belonging to his “Pop” to the Dawn Service.

It’s never lost on the Freeman family how important ANZAC Day is.

“It means a lot traditionally through my ancestors and family... It means a great deal to a lot of people.”

Mason said he “loves to learn” about ANZAC Day, so he can understand what his Pop experienced during his service.

Ben Maxwell

Photo by Rob Blackburn
Photo by Rob Blackburn

When the time comes to pause for one minute in every commemorative service, Ben Maxwell’s mind travels first to the mates he has lost along the way.

Ben served in the Army between 2000 to 2004, spending time in Townsville and Puckapunyal.

Of all the great things to come out of his time serving, there is one that stands out – the friendships.

“A lot of hard times, but I miss the mateship,” he said.

“The mateship is the best part. My best mates are still blokes I’ve served in the Army with.”

On ANZAC Day, Ben recognises the immense sacrifices of those who served before him, those serving today, and those yet to come.

“I hear a lot of people say it’s cold, or my feet are hurting,” he said.

“That doesn’t faze me today. I feel the things they went through back in the day were way worse than what we’re doing here for an hour-and-a-half.”

Zahra Knott

Photo by Meg Gannon
Photo by Meg Gannon

For Zahra Knott, ANZAC Day is her time to recognise those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during their service.

“(I think about) how hard it would be to go through that – to lose people – or, if you were in it, how hard it would be to lose your life that young, or, if you survived, the trauma from it.”

Ben Willee

Photo by Rob Blackburn
Photo by Rob Blackburn

Lieutenant Commander Ben Willee feels like he’s standing on the shoulders of giants. He follows in the footsteps of his grandfathers and his father who served.

That is where his mind goes on ANZAC Day.

“We often we talk a lot about the servicepeople themselves, and we have to remind ourselves that the people who keep the home fires burning play a really important role,” he said.

“Those people have really enabled those who go out and do the business to do that. So it's a day for everyone who's contributed to service in this great nation to have some reflection and to think deeply about that and what it means to be Australian and what it means to serve this great nation that we're very fortunate to be part of.”

Ben has served for 20 years in the Navy Reserves, and currently works as a Public Affairs Officer, helping to tell important stories of service, and raising awareness about servicepeople and their work.

Donald Ormiston

Photo by Rob Blackburn
Photo by Rob Blackburn

Donald Ormiston feels enormously privileged to be an Australian soldier.

He follows seven generations of people in service within his family, and thinks about them more than ever during ANZAC Day.

“ANZAC Day to me is more important than anything else.”