Remembrance Day, 2023
Remembrance Day has its own unique place on the calendar. It is a time to quietly pay tribute to those who have died or suffered serving Australia, and other Commonwealth nations, by acknowledging a minute’s silence at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month.
It is a ritual that is solemn and dignified.
While the day has special significance as the date of the signing of the armistice in 1918, ending four and half years of bloodshed in what was said to be the war to end all wars, it is also a moment that can be overlooked.
The hour of 11am is generally when people are busy at work, and many of us, with the intention of honouring the tradition, have unintentionally let the moment pass.
In 2023, Remembrance Day falls on a Saturday. It will give most people the opportunity to attend a service or stand for a moment at home in reflection of those who have given everything for their country.
The symbol of the red poppy is also a striking reminder of the loss that has occurred, not only in the First World War, but in all conflicts. The poppy itself, adds to the dignity of the day. It is easily recognisable, and its simplicity relays a message that words can often derail.
The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance stems from the poem In Flanders Fields, composed by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae at a first-aid post in 1915.
McCrae described the poppies that marked the graves of the soldiers who had died fighting for their country at the second battle of Ypres .
In 1919, the British Legion adopted the red poppy as their symbol of remembrance.
It was in that same year, that Australian journalist, Edward Honey, suggested a two-minute silence be held in London on the first anniversary of the signing of the armistice. A South African statesman had made the same proposal to the British Parliament, which endorsed it.
Armistice Day would become Remembrance Day after the Second World War, with the modern ceremony encompassing all wars, armed conflicts and peace-keeping missions.
This year, with conflict ever-present, and tension seemingly building across the globe, this Saturday could be the perfect time for all of us to stop and reflect, firstly about those who have died and suffered defending our freedoms, and secondly, to reflect on the act of remembrance itself.