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ANZAC Day has been commemorated in Australia since 1916 and the day was proclaimed as a public holiday throughout each Australian state and territory in the 1920's. However the tradition of the Sydney dawn service began in an impromptu manner when a group of veterans wandering home through Martin Place on ANZAC eve in 1927 joined an elderly lady as she laid a wreath on the unfinished monument. From these humble beginnings the dawn service has grown into a nation-wide event.
The inaugural Sydney ANZAC Day Dawn Service was held the following year and was attended by 150 people. Now in excess of 10,000 people turn out each year in the pre-dawn darkness to pay their respects.
The service is held at dawn both because it was the time of day of the Gallipoli Landings and because of the military tradition of 'standing to'. 'Standing to' refers to the practice of soldiers readying themselves at dawn for possible attack.
The Dawn Service will be followed by the ANZAC Day March beginning at 9am.