For a Debt We Can Never Repay

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

With the arrival of Remembrance Day, our minds and hearts are reflecting more than ever on the sacrifices of our military personnel. Each year on November 11, we gather together as a community to pay our respects to those who have served.

Remembrance Day began as Armistice Day, a way to remember those who died in World War I.
After World War II, the day was renamed Remembrance Day to commemorate those who died in both World Wars. As the years wore on, the commemorative purpose of Remembrance Day expanded and grew. The day now embraces all of the men and women, from all wars and conflicts, who have defended our Australian way of life and offer tribute to them – for a debt we cannot ever repay.

At 11am on 11th November 1918, the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained special significance in the post-war years and became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war.

There are many ways you can remember the personal sacrifice of people who have served Australia in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

Remembrance Day Traditions

Wearing Red Poppies

The symbolism of red poppies goes back to World War I where this bright flower was the first to break through the war-ravaged fields in Belgium and Northern France. They almost immediately became a symbol of the blood and sacrifice of those who died in battle.
During and following World War I, the poppy became a symbol of the bravery, dedication, and sacrifice for all soldiers who gave their lives on the battlefield.

Two Minutes of Silence  

In a request from King George V, the entire commonwealth was asked to observe a “complete suspension of all our normal activities at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead.”

The tradition continued on and today, the entire nation falls silent for one to two minutes at exactly 11 o’clock in the morning on Remembrance Day. These minutes of silence honour those who have died during World War I along with every member of the armed forces that have perished in battle since that day.

Laying of Wreaths

Flowers have long been places on the gravesites or near sites were the deceased were laid to rest. Over time, wreaths became a more popular item to lay on headstones, mausoleums, and large memorials. Today’s wreaths are a nod in symbolism to the laurel wreaths given by the ancient Roman government to victors and the especially brave during times of war.

Wreaths placed at graves or memorials in Australia can contain any number of floral arrangements. Two notable plants you’ll see in many wreath arrangements include rosemary and poppies.

Remembering Those that Gave All

Remembrance Day is a solemn time to honour and remember the men and women who fought and died in the service of their country. While their lives may have ended on the battlefield, their courage and bravery will continue to live on through the centuries.