Never forgotten

On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, we observe a minutes’ silence to remember those who died defending our nation and our democratic ideals. Remembrance Day was established after World War 1 when the guns fell silent on the Western Front.


In Australia and other allied countries, including New Zealand, Canada and the United States, November 11 became known as Armistice Day, a day to remember those who died in World War 1. More than 60,000 Australian soldiers and about 17,000 New Zealand soldiers perished in the Great War.


In November 1918, Germany accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender and called for a cessation of fighting, so a peace settlement could be negotiated.


While we think of our fallen this November, it would also be appropriate to think of Ukraine where war has been raging since March last year. Russia invaded a peaceful country and Ukrainians are still defending their homeland.



How did Remembrance Day come about? On the first anniversary of the armistice in 1919, two minutes’ silence was introduced as part of the main commemorative ceremony at the new cenotaph in London. Australian journalist Edward Honey and South African politician Sir Percy Fitzpatrick are credited with the idea for the two-minute silence.


Originally called Armistice Day, Australia agreed to a proposal by Britain after World War 11 to change the name to Remembrance Day. Lives lost in both world wars and other conflicts are now commemorated on November 11. 


On the 75th anniversary of the armistice in 1993, Remembrance Day ceremonies in Australia and New Zealand became the focus of national attention. The remains of an unknown Australian soldier, exhumed from a World War 1 military cemetery in France, were ceremonially entombed in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory.


Lest we forget.


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