Governor-General David Hurley said the Anzac legacy was not reflected in a single story or event, but it was rather the sum of thousands of stories.
"(Stories) of ordinary Australians who, when given a job to do, got it done, did it in a way that made us proud and looked after each other during and after," he said in his national address at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The Anzac legacy is forever embedded into Australia's core, the governor-general said.
He referenced the mateship, endurance, courage and sacrifice demonstrated by Australians throughout the pandemic and natural disaster events.
"The (Anzac) characteristics are not confined to our people in uniform. They are evident today in the actions of normal Australians," he said.
"We saw many fine examples of this recently in flood-affected communities in southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales.
"Countless acts of bravery have occurred, most anchored in mateship in its many forms and exemplified by courage and endurance."
An estimated crowd of 14,000 attended the Canberra dawn service.
The prime minister used his dawn service address in Darwin to highlight the devotion of Australia's defence personnel.
But the world those in uniform had sought to defend was changing, Scott Morrison said.
"An arc of autocracy is challenging the rules-based order our grandparents had secured and democratic, free peoples are standing together again," Mr Morrison said.
"In facing this world, we must remember again. If only then, it is only then, that we will truly appreciate what these times require of us all."
Labor leader Anthony Albanese - currently isolating with COVID-19 at his Sydney home - posted a message to commemorate the day on social media.
"On Anzac Day, we think of those first Anzacs, huddled in their landing boats more than a century ago, wondering what the dawn would bring," he said on Facebook.
"We gather in the dark of the early morning because they did. We remember that, because of them, we await a brighter dawn."
Labor deputy leader Richard Marles attended the Darwin service in Mr Albanese's stead.
Defence Force chief General Angus Campbell and defence secretary Greg Moriarty attended an Anzac Day service at the Delhi War Cemetery in India.
General Campbell said the freedom Australia enjoys has not come without a price.
"The ADF has a long history of protecting Australia and its interests from those who may do us harm," he said.
"Today, there are many ADF personnel deployed on operations or working overseas, who carry the legacy of those who have served before them and continue to uphold the Anzac spirit."