Remembrance Day: We will remember them

LEST WE FORGET: At 11am on November 11, Australians will pause to remember those who served our nation in war time. Pictures: SHUTTERSTOCK.
LEST WE FORGET: At 11am on November 11, Australians will pause to remember those who served our nation in war time. Pictures: SHUTTERSTOCK.

WE pause to remember those who served, and gave their lives for their country, at 11am on November 11 each year.

It has already been a disrupted year in terms of showing our respect to past servicemen and women, with many Anzac Day commemorations cancelled due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. But it did not stop individuals paying their respects. Footage was shared of people marking the day in their driveways, with the sounds of bugles echoing through neighbourhoods.

Former serviceman Ken Fayle, who is president of the Newcastle RSL sub-branch, said the success of these community-driven tributes showed that the public at large believed they still had great significance.

"I would hope that, wherever people are at 11am on the 11th, they could stop for a moment and remember those who gave their lives," he said.

We commemorate Remembrance Day particularly as the end of the so-called war to end all wars. Mr Fayle said it remained significant as the first large-scale war Australians fought after Federation, the war in which the term Anzac was coined at Gallipoli and it helped to shape the Australian psyche.

Originally Armistice Day, Remembrance Day marks the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when an armistice was signed to bring the international conflict to a close. Begun in mid-1914, Australian troops were deployed as part of the British response to the crisis.

Australia suffered heavy losses as part of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, with 8141 deaths and many more casualties. Soldiers, some of whom were veterans of the Gallipoli campaign, went on to lose their lives on the Western Front.

It was a war that had claimed 9.5 million military lives, according to Australian War Memorial figures, approximately 60,000 of which were Australian. There were also huge civilian losses.

For those who returned home, there were often lifelong scars, seen and unseen, to be borne by the soldiers and other personnel who returned from overseas.

Following World War II, Remembrance Day became an opportunity to remember and pay tribute to all those who served Australia in war time. We remember not only their sacrifices, but their resilience in their lives on returning to their home country.

Serviceman and Lithgow RSL sub-branch president John Williams said, with more than 102,000 Australians dying in the wars in which the country has served, many of whom are buried overseas or at sea, it was an important chance to reflect.

"We have the obligation of showing gratitude for the peace we enjoy and the responsibility of ensuring that the freedom and liberty so costly won is not lost by own indifference," he said.

Poppies are the enduring symbol of Remembrance Day, calling back to the flowers which grew on the Western Front during World War I. They are now sold to support soldiers' families.