Lest We Forget

At 11am on 11 November 1918, the armistice which signified the ending of World War One took effect. The conflict had mobilised over 70,000,000 combatants and left between nine and 13 million dead.

In 1919 the allied nations, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain and the United States, declared November 11 as Armistice Day, when a two-minute silence would be observed at 11am to remember those who had fought and died far from home during four years of bloody conflict.

After World War Two some of the allies renamed it Remembrance Day to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars, and in 1997 Governor-General Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11 November each year to be Remembrance Day, when all Australians were urged to observe a one-minute silence at 11.00am in memory of those who died or suffered for Australia's cause in all wars and armed conflicts.

The well-known words of poet Laurence Binyon in his ode “For the Fallen", penned in 1914 just a few weeks after the outbreak of the “War To End All Wars”, continue to remind us of their sacrifice:

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.

It is fitting that we pause our lives briefly again this year, as Australia has done since 1919, to pay our respects.

Photo: Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux

© wikimedia.org/Marc Roussel

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