Remembering to Remember

There are few days within the calendar year that remain important inter-generationally. I suppose that priorities change with each generation that comes along, and the significance of many events is lost in the ‘noise’ of everything else going on in life.

Few dates have the significance today, that they did when they were first marked and celebrated. Christmas, for example, has all the appeal of any other consumer holiday, but certainly doesn’t have the religious importance it once did….at least to the masses.

Image: ABC Two elderly men help each other during the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Martin Place, Sydney. Photo credit; Fairfax Media Kate Geraghty

Remembrance day is one day that , thankfully, for now, at least, is still honoured and upheld across the generations. Schools play such an important role in this. Interestingly, although it is perhaps as important as Anzac day, it is not accompanied by a public holiday. And as a consequence of that I suppose, it is impossible to meet the numbers seen at services around the country for Anzac day.

Just the other day I was at a local market and was approached by an elderly man with a tray of poppies, badges and other small items available to commemorate the day. Nothing had a fixed price, but instead, was yours for whatever donation you could give. How could you refuse? Grabbing gold coins from my wallet, I handed it over and took a small poppy to wear. My sister in law, and my friend also purchased one, and I overheard my friend explaining what it was to her 9 year old son. Beautifully, he asked his mother, if he could also ‘buy’ another to give to his brother to wear also.

The message is simplified for those who are younger, but the message is the same….that they died, so that we may live.

Image: Via Pinterest

Another friend shared a cute anecdote on Facebook, proud and satisfied that she had successfully explained the meaning and significance of the day to her 4 and 7 year olds. Upon waking up on Wednesday morning, her 4 year old son, announced excitedly that it was ‘Shoosh Day’. Confused, my friend asked him, ‘What is Shoosh Day?”

“It’s when you have to be quiet alllllllllllllllll day so that our Great-grandfather gets some peace!!!”

Yep, probably going to have to clear that up a bit more…..

Image: ABC Crosses displayed in North Terrace in Adelaide as part of Remembrance Day 2015. Phot Credit: ABC News Nicola Gage

This year, Remembrance day was on Wednesday, 11th November. A moments silence is observed at 11am on the 11th November each year to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts. This year marks the 97th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I in 1918.

The significance is that at 11am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front finally fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. After the allied armies had pushed the Germans back, having been defeated repeatedly over the previous 4 months, the Germans called for a suspension of fighting to determine a peace settlement. They accepted the conditions that amounted to unconditional surrender.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month has held special significance in post-war years. The moment when hostilities ceased has become universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died at war. It was initially referred to as Armistice Day (‘Armistice’ is defined as suspension of fighting), however after the Second World War, both the Australian and British Governments changed the name to Remembrance Day, and it was observed as a day where we would commemorate ALL war dead, not just those who died in WW1.

Image: Rotary

This year Prince Charles and Camilla attended the Remembrance Day service in Canberra, laying a wreath on the tomb of the unknown solider and placing poppies on the roll of honour.  And whilst they were certainly a draw card for this years service, the focus was instead on Australia’s Indigeneous Diggers.  The National Commemorative address presented for the first time by an Indigeneous person and a gallery within the memorial is to be re-named in honour of the first Aboriginal man to become an officer in the Australian Army, Captain Reg Saunders.

Image: ABC Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, walks alongside Prince Charles and Camilla at the Australian War Memorial. Photo Credit: AAP Dean Lewins

What do you think? Does the Remembrance Day message get diluted as it is not a Public Holiday, and people are unable to attend services? Is taking a moment out in a day enough to remember the fallen?

Til next time,

Fwf x


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