In memory of those who served, suffered and died in war.
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A deep, heavy silence after more than four years of almost constant warfare.
For many, perhaps most, on the front lines, there was no jubilation. No joy.
The clock had struck 11am, on November 11, 1918.
The armistice, negotiated between the two sides of The Great War, came into effect.
The artillery ceased. The fighting stopped.
It was finally over.
As the RSL’s description reads:
“At 11.00 am on 11 November 1918 the guns fell silent as hostilities ceased on the Western Front, ending four years of death and destruction. Earlier that day, at 5.00 am, the Germans signed an armistice in a railway carriage at Compiègne. In the following year, the Treaty of Versailles made the cease-fire permanent.”
Thereafter, November 11 became Armistice Day — the day on which Commonwealth countries remembered those who had served, and died, in The Great War.
Tragically, it wouldn’t be the war to end all wars, as they hoped.
And so, Armistice Day was subsequently named Remembrance Day, and became a day to remember those who served, suffered and died in all wars.
While ANZAC Day has become Australia’s primary day of commemoration, we also pause to reflect on Remembrance Day.
Every year, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month — today — a minute’s silence is observed in their memory.
A few years ago, I had the solemn privilege of visiting some of the battlefields and cemeteries on the Western Front.
The ground still bears some of the scars of war. And the Flanders poppies still grow.
The words of the Canadian serviceman and poet, John McCrae, came immediately to mind:
In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Today, at 11am, I will observe a minute’s silence.
In remembrance of those who served in our Australia’s name, and in the armed services of her allies.
In remembrance of those who suffered then, and those who still suffer now.
In remembrance of those who did not return.
It is a personal choice, of course. But I would encourage you to do the same.
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.
Lest We Forget.
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