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Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day in Australia commemorates the noble sacrifices of armed forces and civilians during times of war. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, one minute of silence is observed across the country to mark the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front during WWI after over four years of gruesome warfare.

The moment in 1918 when hostilities ceased was originally named Armistice Day, becoming a time when allied nations honoured the brave sacrifices made by all who fought and lost their lives during the First World War. At the end of the Second World War, the Australian and British governments renamed November 11 Remembrance Day to mark and remember all who have fallen in times of war. The ritual of observing one minute of silence was first proposed by Australian journalist Edward Honey in 1918 and continues to be universally practiced on Remembrance Day each year.

Unlike ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day is not a public holiday in Australia but services are held at 11am at War Memorials and cenotaphs in suburbs and towns across the country. Traditionally, the Last Post is sounded by a bugler followed by one minute of silence. After the minute of silence, flags are raised from half mast to masthead as Rouse is played.

Remembrance Day is observed across the world in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, South Africa, The United States of America, Bermuda, Ireland and New Zealand as well as in Australia. In many of these locations, two minutes of silence is observed at 11am.

The Poppy Appeal

The Red Poppy emblem is a symbolic of those who have fallen in times of war and the Poppy Appeal is run in the lead up to Remembrance Day.

During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to bloom in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldier’s folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground, making the poppy symbolic of the bloodshed in trench warfare.

The Poppy was chosen as the emblem of remembrance after Canadian military physician, John McCrae wrote the moving and powerful poem In Flanders Fields. John McCrae is popularly believed to have written the poem on May 3rd 1915 after he witnessed the death of his 22 year old friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer the day prior. The poem was first published on December 8 of that year in the London based magazine, Punch. To this day, the poem remains one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battles of the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915.

The Poppy Appeal contributes significantly to the fundraising work of the RSL. The largest fundraising activity of the Appeal is the sale of poppies beginning in late October each year. Poppies are available in various denominations from $1 to $50 and the money raised is used to assist both current and former serving members of the Australian and Allied defence forces and their dependents when in need. The RSL encourages all Australians to purchase a poppy and 'Remember in November.' 

In 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.
 
 John McCrae, 1915.

At 11am on Remembrance Day the Last Post is played by a bugler followed by a minute of silence


bugler