LEST WE FORGET: Remembrance Day ceremony at RSL Memorial Hall in Ipswich.
LEST WE FORGET: Remembrance Day ceremony at RSL Memorial Hall in Ipswich. Rob Williams

Time to reflect on sacrifice

NEXT Friday is 'Armistice' Day. This day commemorated the end of the hostilities for the Great War (World War I), the signing of the armistice, which occurred on 11 November 1918-the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Armistice Day was observed by the Allies as a way of remembering those who died, especially soldiers with 'no known grave'.

After the end of World War II in 1945, the Australian and British governments changed the name to Remembrance Day as an appropriate title for a day which would commemorate all war dead.

In October 1997, then Governor-General of Australia, Sir William Deane, issued a proclamation declaring:

11 November as Remembrance Day and urging Australians to observe one minute's silence at 11.00 am on Remembrance Day each year to remember the sacrifice of those who died or otherwise suffered in Australia's cause in wars and war-like conflicts.

The Red Poppy has long been a part of Remembrance Day and Anzac Day services and you will find RSL members in and around shopping centers in Ipswich selling these as well as badges to help support their efforts in supporting ex-service personnel.

But why the Red Poppy? Well, at the end of the First World War poppies were the first flowers to grow from the slush and mud of Northern France and Flanders battlefields.

'Soldiers' folklore had it that the poppies were vivid red from having been nurtured in ground drenched with the blood of their comrades'.

The significance of the poppy was bought to the public's attention through the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by a Canadian surgeon John McCrae whilst he was serving in Ypres in 1915. Which reads:

"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."

Whilst our older generation will remember the end of World War 2 many of the younger generations will have first-hand knowledge of the more recent conflicts that our service men and women have been involved in - Korea, Vietnam, Malaya, Timor, Iraqi and Afghanistan and others.

It gives credit to Sir William Dean's proclamation that Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifice of thousands of our young men and women who have died or otherwise suffered in conflicts around the world as part of their service to their country.

Remembrance Day services in Ipswich will be held at the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch, Nicholas St; RAAF Base Amberley, Workshops Rail Museum and Goodna RSL. Let us all observe one minute's silence at 11am to remember this sacrifice and to say thanks to our Defence Force personnel.

Lest we forget.

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