Remembrance Day

Ballajura RSL Remembrance day service is held on the 11th November every year at 11:00 am service starts at 10:45 am. All veterans and members of the public are welcome to attend the service. See you there.

Service Location: Memorial peace park – Ballajura community college located on Illawarra Drive Ballajura. Car parking available next to the Memorial peace park.

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Remembrance Day in Australia is an occasion to commemorate and remember all Australians who have died as a result of war.

When is Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day falls on the 11th of November each year.

On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, a minutes’ silence is observed and dedicated to those soldiers who died fighting to protect the nation.

In Australia and other allied countries, including New Zealand, Canada and the United States, 11 November became known as Armistice Day – a day to remember those who died in World War One. The day continues to be commemorated in Allied countries.

After World War Two, the Australian Government agreed to the United Kingdom’s proposal that Armistice Day be renamed Remembrance Day to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars. Today the loss of Australian lives from all wars and conflicts is commemorated on Remembrance Day.

What is the origin of Remembrance Day?

11 November is universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the First World War. This conflict had mobilised over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead and as many as one third of these with no grave. The Allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead.

At 11 am on 11 November 1918, the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the German invaders back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months.

In November, the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) in order to secure a peace settlement. They accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years and became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war.

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What is the significance of the period of Silence?

On the first anniversary of the armistice in 1919, two minutes’ silence was instituted as part of the main commemorative ceremony at the new Cenotaph in London.

Australian journalist Edward Honey proposed the silence. At about the same time, a South African statesman made a similar proposal to the British Cabinet, which endorsed it.

King George V personally requested all the people of the British Empire suspend normal activities for two minutes on the hour of the Armistice ‘which stayed the worldwide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom’. The two minutes silence was popularly adopted and it became a central feature of commemorations of Armistice Day.

The Unknown Soldier

On the second anniversary of the Armistice on 11 November 1920, the commemoration was given added significance when it became a funeral, with the return of the remains of an unknown soldier from the battlefields of the Western Front.

Unknown soldiers were interred with full military honours in Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triumph in Paris. The entombment in London attracted over one million people within a week to pay their respects at the Unknown Soldier’s tomb. Most other allied nations adopted the tradition of entombing unknown soldiers over the following decade.

In Australia on the 75th anniversary of the armistice in 1993, Remembrance Day ceremonies again became the focus of national attention. The remains of an unknown Australian soldier, exhumed from a First World War military cemetery in France, were ceremonially entombed in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory. Remembrance Day ceremonies were conducted simultaneously in towns and cities all over the country, culminating at the moment of burial at 11.00am and coinciding with the traditional two minutes silence.

Why is this day special to Australians?

In 1997, Governor-General Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11 November to be Remembrance Day, urging all Australians to observe one minutes silence at 11.00am on 11 November each year, to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.

This year on Sunday 11 November at 11.00am, we will commemorate 94 years since the guns on the Western Front fell silent and reflect on the significance of that event. We also pause or remember all of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

We will remember them. Lest we forget.

Remembrance Day 1993

Prime Minister, The Hon. P.J. Keating MP

Below is a transcript of the eulogy delivered by the Prime Minister, The Hon. P.J. Keating MP, at the funeral service of the Unknown Australian Soldier, 11 November 1993.

 

Transcript

We do not know this Australian’s name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances – whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was.

Yet he has always been among those whom we have honoured. We know that he was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the Western Front. One of the 416,000 Australians who volunteered for service in the First World War. One of the 324,000 Australians who served overseas in that war and one of the 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil. One of the 100,000 Australians who have died in wars this century.

He is all of them. And he is one of us.

This Australia and the Australia he knew are like foreign countries. The tide of events since he died has been so dramatic, so vast and all-consuming, a world has been created beyond the reach of his imagination.

He may have been one of those who believed that the Great War would be an adventure too grand to miss. He may have felt that he would never live down the shame of not going. But the chances are he went for no other reason than that he believed it was his duty – the duty he owed his country and his King.

Because the Great War was a mad, brutal, awful struggle, distinguished more often than not by military and political incompetence; because the waste of human life was so terrible that some said victory was scarcely discernible from defeat; and because the war which was supposed to end all wars in fact sowed the seeds of a second, even more terrible, war –  we might think this Unknown Soldier died in vain.

But, in honouring our war dead, as we always have and as we do today, we declare that this is not true.

For out of the war came a lesson which transcended the horror and tragedy and the inexcusable folly.

It was a lesson about ordinary people – and the lesson was that they were not ordinary.

On all sides they were the heroes of that war; not the generals and the politicians but the soldiers and sailors and nurses – those who taught us to endure hardship, to show courage, to be bold as well as resilient, to believe in ourselves, to stick together.

The Unknown Australian Soldier we inter today was one of those who by his deeds proved that real nobility and grandeur belong not to empires and nations but to the people on whom they, in the last resort, always depend.

 

That is surely at the heart of the ANZAC story, the Australian legend which emerged from the war. It is a legend not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity. It is a legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity.

It is a democratic tradition, the tradition in which Australians have gone to war ever since.

This Unknown Australian is not interred here to glorify war over peace; or to assert a soldier’s character above a civilian’s; or one race or one nation or one religion above another; or men above women; or the war in which he fought and died above any other war; or of one generation above any that has or will come later.

The Unknown Soldier honours the memory of all those men and women who laid down their lives for Australia.

His tomb is a reminder of what we have lost in war and what we have gained.

We have lost more than 100,000 lives, and with them all their love of this country and all their hope and energy.

We have gained a legend: a story of bravery and sacrifice and, with it, a deeper faith in ourselves and our democracy, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be Australian.

It is not too much to hope, therefore, that this Unknown Australian Soldier might continue to serve his country – he might enshrine a nation’s love of peace and remind us that in the sacrifice of the men and women whose names are recorded here there is faith enough for all of us.

The Hon. P.J. Keating MP
Prime Minister of Australia

The Red Poppy

The Red Poppy has special significance for Australians and is worn on Remembrance Day each year.

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Why a red poppy?

Canadian Colonel John McCrae first described the Red Poppy, the Flanders’ poppy, as the flower of remembrance.

Whilst serving in the First World War, one death in particular affected the then Major McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, was killed on 2 May. He was buried in the cemetery outside McCrae’s dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.

McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. At the second battle of Ypres in 1915, when in charge of a small first-aid post, he wrote in pencil on a page from his despatch book, a poem that has come to be known as ‘Flanders’ Field’ which described the poppies that marked the graves of soldiers killed fighting for their country.

What is the significance for Australians?

The Red Poppy has special significance for Australians.

Worn on Remembrance Day (11 November) each year, the red poppies were among the first to flower in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium in the First World War. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground.
In England in 1919, the British Legion sought an emblem that would honour the dead and help the living. The Red Poppy was adopted as that emblem and since then has been accepted as the Emblem of Remembrance.

The League adopted the idea in 1921, announcing:

“The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia and other Returned Soldiers Organisations throughout the British Empire and Allied Countries have passed resolutions at their international conventions to recognise the Poppy of Flanders’ Fields as the international memorial flower to be worn on the anniversary of Armistice Day.”

Australians wear a Red Poppy on Remembrance Day for three reasons. Firstly, in memory of the sacred dead who rest in Flanders’ Fields. Secondly, to keep alive the memories of the sacred cause for which they laid down their lives; and thirdly, as a bond of esteem and affection between the soldiers of all Allied nations and in respect for France, our common battleground.

Today, cloth poppies are sold on, or around, 11 November each year. They are an exact replica in size and colour of the poppies that bloom in Flanders’ Fields. The RSL sells millions of red cloth poppies with proceeds going towards raising funds for welfare work.

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FLANDERS Fields

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.

 

The poem was written by a Canadian Medical Corps doctor, Major John McCrae, who was serving with a Field Artillery Brigade in Ypres. The death of one of his friends in May 1915, buried in the cemetery outside his dressing station, affected him severely and he wrote his poem as a way of expressing his anguish at the loss. He was dissatisfied with the poem when he finished it and threw it away, but one of his fellow officers retrieved it and was so moved that he sent it to the media in London, where it was published by Punch on 8 December 1915. Its simple but evocative encapsulation of the horror of the trenches has made it the most famous of the war poems.