Picture: Pierre Best on Unsplash
Remembrance Day, November 11 marks the day when Australians honour those who have served, fought and sacrificed for the nation.
This year’s anniversary has special significance, marking the centenary of the Armistice, which brought the hostilities of the First World War to an end in 1918. More than 60,000 Australians died in the conflict and 330,000 served.
Until the end of the Second World War, November 11 was known as Armistice Day in Australia, but was renamed Remembrance Day, to commemorate those killed in later conflicts.
Australia’s national Remembrance Day ceremony takes place at the Australian War Memorial, in Campbell. A significant moment in the ceremony is the reading of the eulogy for Australia’s Unknown Soldier. This year marks the 25th anniversary of his interral in the tomb in the Memorial’s Hall of Memory.
As a mark of respect to the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have sacrificed their lives, all Australians are encouraged to stop what they are doing, wherever they are, at 11am to observe a minute, or two-minute silence.
Remembrance Day events
New South Wales’ Remembrance Day Service will take place at The Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park.
The Shrine of Remembrance in Kings Domain is the focal point for the Victorian State Remembrance Day Ceremony from 10.15am. After the minutes’ silence, those assembled will watch the sun pass across the Stone of Remembrance, with the Ray of Light landing on the word ‘LOVE’ at midday.
RSL Queensland will host the State’s largest Remembrance Day ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance, ANZAC Square, Brisbane. It also has details about more than 230 Armistice Day ceremonies being held in towns across the state on November 11.
More than 180 buglers will play the Last Post across Perth to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice on November 11. At the State War Memorial, a poppy will be laid in memory of each Australian who served and died in the 1914-18 war.
The Remembrance Service at the State War Memorial will begin with Air Force flypast. From noon, the RSLWA will be hosting veterans and families at its Centenary of Armistice community picnic in the Government House gardens from noon to 3pm.
Why do we wear poppies?
The poppy is a symbol of remembrance and hope. It's not a symbol of death, or a sign of support for war.
The Australian Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League (the former RSL) first sold poppies in 1921, when one million silk poppies made in French orphanages were imported to Australia. Each poppy was sold for a shilling: five pence was donated to a charity for French children, six pence went to the League's own welfare work, and one penny went to the League's national coffers.
Nowadays, the RSL sell poppies to raise funds for welfare work. The poppies are worn on Remembrance Day to commemorate the 102,000 Australian servicemen and women who have given their lives in wars and conflicts during the past 100 years.
Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem, In Flanders Fields helped inspire the poppy to become a symbol of remembrance. Written in 1915, he reflected on the resilience of the delicate flowers that sprang to life amid the devastation of the churned-up battlefields.
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.