November 11 is Remembrance Day a day which was originally commemorated to remember the fallen soldiers of World War One but now also includes remembrance of all veterans who have served their country.
In 1914 our Australian soldiers, as part of the Commonwealth joined the British to fight in World War One. They volunteered and many were never to return. I read a book by Thomas Keneally – The Daughters of Mars which is about nurses in WWI and I highly recommend it – Daughters of Mars
World War One was supposed to be the ‘war that ends all wars’, however today almost a century later our world is still in turmoil. People are still suffering and enduring the ravages of war which is a sad indictment on our world.
When did Remembrance Day start?
The first Remembrance Day was held in 1919 and was originally called Armistice day. This was the day that at the 11th hour, of the 11th month of the 11th year that the First World War ended in 1918 when the armistice was signed by . After the Second World War the name was changed to Remembrance Day.
What do the Poppies symbolise?
The Flanders poppy, which is a colourful red was taken by the Allied Nations as the symbol of remembrance to be worn on Armistice Day. This was because of the poppies which were the first flowers to bloom on the devastated battlefields of Flanders and Belgium. It originates from the poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae written in 1915.
How do we remember?
In Australia we have the National War Memorial and each year on November 11, memorial services are held Australia wide. We pause at 11am for two minutes silence to remember those brave men and women and to give thanks for the freedom of our country. The Last Post is played at the end of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, and it’s haunting and emotional notes still bring tears to many eyes.
The following extract from the poem ‘Ode to the Fallen’ was written in September 1914 by Laurence Binyon who was too old to serve but volunteered in hospitals working with wounded. French solders. This extract is usually read at Remembrance Day and Anzac Day ceremonies.
Having a husband who was a Vietnam Veteran and who was called up for national service in the late 60’s, I have seen what war can do to people who are serving their country. My husband is a little older than me so I was in high school during the Vietnam War. I still remember though, the protests rallying against the War and also how poorly our Vietnam Veterans were treated when they came home. Of course, that has changed now – but perhaps too little, too late.
War to me is never an answer but alas it will always be a part of the world in which we live.
So today on this Remembrance Day take time to reflect on those who have given us our freedom yesterday and even today and spare a thought for those who are still suffering and are oppressed.