Do you ever heard of Remembrance Day in Australia!? Remembrance Day is celebrated to invoke patriotism in the country and it is celebrated in many countries including Australia, Canada, Bermuda, Belize, India, UK, New Zealand, Saint Lucia, and South Africa. Today in this article, we are going to discuss on how Australians celebrate Remembrance Day and what are the Remembrance Poems being sung on that day!?
What is a Remembrance Day?
A Remembrance Day is a special day or occasion, celebrated to recall the time of blood sheds by the army persons as a result of wars. In fact, it is an act of happiness and gratitude given to those who had sacrificed their lives in the wars.
Remembrance Day in Australia
In Australia, Remembrance Day is celebrated as an occasion to commemorate all the Australians who sacrificed their lives during the war especially during First and Second World War. A minute or couple of minutes silence dedicated to the Australians who have died during the wars especially for the soldiers who were deceased during the war for protecting the Nation. Every year on November 11th, Remembrance Day is celebrated in a grand way but it is not a public holiday though.
Though it is not a public holiday, on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, November, people stop doing their works (whatever it might be) and pay a minute silence and resume their regular work.
Well, what exactly people do on Remembrance Day!? Many Australians stop their work at the 11th hour on the 11th day of 11th month every year and pay a minute silence for those who lost their lives for the sake of country’s safety and security. Teachers, politicians, students, workers of public and private sector enterprises, business people, etc. join this act of celebration on Remembrance Day. People conducts special meetings to have few words or speeches, recalling moments happened during world wars. Many important political figures gives speeches by conducting meetings in their council areas or offices about the fallen heroes for protecting the nation. Across the country, special services are held at 11 am in suburbs and towns, at which a one minute silence is also observed by each and every person on 11th hour. It is believed that ANZAC Day which is been celebrated as the National Day of War Commemoration, partly eclipsed the importance of Remembrance Day.
In the most important ceremonies, Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day, people recite two most popular and traditional remembrance poems. The two remembrance poems, “For The Fallen” and “In Flanders Fields” are part of Aussie tradition of celebrating Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day. The interesting fact here is that the two poems are from R.L. Binyon and J. Mc Crae who are not Australians and still their poems are recited as part of Aussie tradition because Aussie believe their poems are worth to recite as part of tradition during Remembrance and ANZAC Day.
According to the Australian’s government Cultural and Recreation Portal, Remembrance Day was earlier known as ‘Armistice Day’ and later after World War 2, United Kingdom came up with a proposal of changing the name ‘Armistice’ to ‘Remembrance’ and to which Australian government is agreed and since then it is known as ‘Remembrance Day’ to commemorate soldiers and others who died in both world wars.
Origin of Remembrance Day
At the 11th hour on November 11th 1918, there happened to see a silence on the Western Front after a continuous fight in the long war that lasted for about four years. The allied armies especially soldiers sent the German invaders back after causing heavy defeats upon them over continuous preceding four months. In regard to peace settlement, Germans were called on November for armistice, to which Germans agreed allied terms of unconditional surrender. That is the reason, the eleventh hour of eleventh day of eleventh month, November has achieved a special significance during post war years. Also, its been universally associated and accepted by all the allied countries as a remembrance day to commemorate people died in world wars.
Now let us know those two most popular poems are and their lyrics!
IN FLANDERS’ FIELD
LIEUTENANT COLONEL JOHN MCCRAE, MD (1872-1918)
In Flanders’ Fields the poppies blow
Between the headstones, 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.
FOR THE FALLEN
LAURENCE BINYON (1869-1943)
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
Our country mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond our country’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Few more facts about Remembrance Day
On Remembrance Day, the Australian War Memorial will host the nation’s key commemoration. This ceremony is attended by many high level dignitaries, students, politicians, thousands of general public, as well as diplomats. The key commemorative address will be delivered by the Governor-General of Common wealth Australia and later by reciting some traditional remembrance poems along with wreath-laying.
In 1919, on the first anniversary of Armistice Day (later changed to Remembrance Day), an Australian Journalist Edward Honey (working in Fleet Street) came up with a proposal of paying two minute’s silence as part of the key commemorative ceremony for the war dead at the New Cenotaph in London. Concurrently, a South African Statesman made a similar proposal of two minute silence to the British Cabinet endorsing the proposal by Australian Journalist.
Simultaneously, King George V had a request to all the British Empire people i.e. suspending all the regular activities at the eleventh hour of the Armistice ‘which stayed the worldwide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom’. Since then the two minute silence proposal was popularly adapted by all the other allied countries and even became an important attraction and must to be followed feature of commemorations on Armistice Day.
The following year’s Armistice Day i.e. even the second anniversary holds some significance. Yes, on the second anniversary, there happened to receive the unknown soldiers remains from the battle fields of Western Front and the funeral ceremony had happened plus interred with full military honours in Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triumph in Paris. After the entombment, the Unknown Soldier’s tomb had attracted millions of people during the first week in London. Over time or we can say following many years, the tradition of entombing unknown soldier’s remains had been adapted by the other allied nations.
After Second World War, at the end, the name ‘Armistice’ was been changed to ‘Remembrance Day’ on 11th November and the decision was taken both Australian and British governments. Since then people consider ‘Remembrance Day’ as the appropriate title for a day on which the main commemorations are held for those who serviced in the wars and especially for the dead soldiers.
In Australia, the ‘Remembrance Day Ceremonies and commemorations again became the main focus on national media and gained a popular attention from public i.e. on 75th Anniversary of Remembrance Day. Yes, on 75th Anniversary in 1993, the remains of entombed Unknown Soldier were exhumed from the military cemetery belonging to First World War in Memorial Halls of Memory in France.
Later on the tradition of two minute silence and the proposal of suspending works at the eleventh hour on eleventh day of eleventh month had been adapted every year by all the allied countries small towns and cities.
After four years in 1997, Australian Governor General Sir William Deane provided a formal proclamation acknowledging November 11 as the Remembrance Day and re-established as the significant day of Commemoration. On the same day, He urged all the Australians to pay one minute silence every year on Eleventh hour (11am) of Eleventh day of Eleventh month (November 11th) in remembrance of those who participated, suffered and especially died for the cause of the Australian Nation in all the wars and conflicts.
Remembrance Day is observed on November 11th every year in most of the allied countries to acknowledge the end of First World War in 1918. Traditionally people wear artificial poppies to acknowledge the day around the world to commemorate the service given by both men and women in World wars. People had chosen poppy as the symbol of Remembrance Day because the poppy flowers are most popular that grow on the battle fields of First World War. Even the widely popular poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, helped the important day to maintain the legacy of the poppy as a key symbol of duty and sacrifice.
What do the different coloured remembrance poppies mean?
Poppies are the end results of first plants that grew on the battle fields of Belgium and Northern France after First World War. Red colored poppy is the most commonly worn and is considered as the traditional color to be worn to acknowledge Remembrance Day. Red colored poppies are worn on jumpers, blazers, shirts, etc. There is a most popular myth roaming around red colored poppies i.e. Poppies were rich in their reds because they blossomed from the ground that was saturated with soldier’s blood during the war. Interesting right!?
There are also other colors available to choose from and to wear on Remembrance Day. But each and every color holds different meaning and different focus.
Black Poppies: Black colored poppies commemorates the fallen soldiers from Caribbean, African, and Pacific Islands heritage.
Purple Poppies: Purple honors the animals who were killed during the wars.
White Poppies: White colored poppies are used as symbols advocating peace while still remembering the war dead’s and injured.
In 2018, Australia had celebrated 100th anniversary of Remembrance Day since the guns on the Western Front fell silent. 2019 Remembrance Day ceremonies were held successfully across the country, Australia. Governor General, David Hurley (a senior Army Officer spent more than four decades in the military) in his first Remembrance Day in 2019 delivered the following address.
“One of the benefits of the past four years of commemoration of the centenary of service that we have conducted in Australia, is that we have reconnected at a personal level to that first war generation”.