Today we stop at 11am, to reflect on the sacrifices paid by our service men and women in our country’s name.
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We all know the deep, heavy quiet of an ANZAC Day commemoration service.
The minute’s silence, when we stop, together, to reflect on the sacrifices paid by our service men and women in our country’s name.
I was moved to think about that silence when I again read this description on the RSL’s website:
“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.”
I can only imagine the other-worldly silence of that moment, 102 years ago.
After years of fighting, of gunshots and explosions, near and far, all of a sudden there would have been… silence.
I imagine some of our Diggers may have embraced their mates, overcome by the moment.
I imagine others might have just exhaled deeply, trying to comprehend the end of what had, minutes earlier, been a life and death struggle.
So much death. Destruction. Loss. Sacrifice.
The mates who wouldn’t be on the ship with them for the long journey home.
And the rest, who returned, but would never be the same.
I think about the silences in the homes of families whose loved ones would not return.
I think about the deep, painful silences of those who returned, but forever bore the mental and physical scars of their service.
Tragically, while November 11, 1918 marked the end of The Great War, its other moniker, The War To End All Wars, was sadly optimistic.
The Great War was, of course, renamed World War I, a name change forced, two decades later, by The Second World War.
Thankfully, the human cost of war has been slowly falling, since; yet it has continued.
And so November 11, originally known as Armistice Day, to remember that original cease fire, became Remembrance Day: a day for Australia and her allies to remember the sacrifice of those who died in the service of their country in all wars and war-like conflicts, and the sacrifice of those who returned, but were forever changed.
They all paid a heavy price. Some, the ultimate price.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” the Christian bible tells us.
I’m not religious, but that remains one of life’s great truisms.
And so, we still stop, today, at 11am, for one minute’s silence.
I would encourage you to do the same.
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.
Lest We Forget.
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