Decades have passed since the Armistice that ended World War 1, “The War to end all Wars.” Since that time, conflicts have continued to rage around the globe, but we still hold fast to the idea that peace is possible, and we continue to work towards that goal.
Remembrance Day in Australia commemorates the noble sacrifices of armed forces and civilians during times of war. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, one minute of silence is observed across the country to mark the cessation of hostilities on the Western front during WW1 after over four years of gruesome warfare.
Remembrance Day 2020
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks the moment the guns fell silent on the Western Front after the bloodshed of World War I. Over the past century, this moment has been adopted across the globe as a time to remember those who served and sacrificed in all wars and conflicts.
This Remembrance Day, RSL Victoria is asking all Australians to Remember to Remember – to commit to pausing for just one minute to remember those who gave their lives in service to their country, those who returned home injured or ill, and those who bravely serve our country today.
You can commemorate Remembrance Day this year via a number of live online events:
THE MELBOURNE REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICE:
When: From 10:45 am on Wednesday November 11, 2020
Where: Broadcast online via the RSL Victoria Facebook page
This year’s Melbourne Remembrance Day service, will be much like the 2020 ANZAC Day service. A service that is a mixture of pre-record and live elements, broadcast online, via the RSL Victoria and Shrine of Remembrance Facebook pages for all to enjoy.
The Melbourne service will begin at 10:45 am on November 11, and the theme for this year’s service will be the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. It is unlikely that Victorian’s will be allowed to physically attend the Melbourne Remembrance Day service, which is traditionally held at the Shrine of Remembrance, but we suggest checking the RSL Victoria and Shrine of Remembrance website and social media.
ANNUAL STATE REMEMBRANCE SERVICE:
When: From 1 pm Sunday November 8, 2020
Where: Online via the RSL Victoria Facebook page
RSL Victoria’s Annual State Remembrance Service is traditionally held at the Springvale War Cemetery on the Sunday before Remembrance Day each year. This year’s service will be pre-filmed and broadcast of the RSL Victoria Facebook page on Sunday, November 8, for all to enjoy. The public are not able to attend this year. RSL Victoria Sate President, Dr Robert Webster OAM, will recite the ode for the pre-recorded service and lay a wreath on behalf of the Victorian veteran community.
CBD BUGLE PLAYING
When: From 11 am on Wednesday November 11, 2020
Where: Melbourne CBD and online via the RSL Victoria Facebook page
Each year at 11 am on Remembrance Day trams, cars and busses stop as musicians stationed at iconic Melbourne landmarks in unison, begin to play The Last Post. This year is no different, as RSL Victoria’s annual bugle playing activation will still go ahead. But the players will play to an empty CBD in a solemn tribute to the fallen. Victorian’s will be able to watch the bugle playing from home on Remembrance Day via the RSL Victoria Facebook page. Victorians are discouraged from traveling to the CBD to watch the bugle playing activation in person on Remembrance Day.
SUB-BRANCH REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICES
We don’t yet know if Sub-Branches will be able to host physical Remembrance Day services. So much depends on the Victorian COVID-19 reopening roadmap. We suggest contacting your local RSL Sub-Branch at the beginning of November to confirm.
Why a red poppy?
Since 1920, the red poppy has been used as a symbol of commemoration to soldiers who have fallen in times of war. During the First World War, poppies were among the first plants to blossom on the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. According to soldier’s folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. Poppies grew in profusion over the earth which had become the grave to thousands of soldiers, making the poppy an appropriate symbol to represent the sacrifice of life and the bloodshed of trench warfare.
The sight of poppies springing up amidst the ravaged battlefields of Ypres inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write one of the most notable and popular poems of the period, In Flanders Fields. It is believed that the poem was written on May 3rd 1915 after McCrae witnessed the death of his 22 year old friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer the day prior.
The tradition of wearing a poppy began just before the armistice in 1918. The secretary of the American YMCA, Moina Michael, read John McCrae’s poem and was so moved by it that she decided to partake in a personal commemorative ritual of wearing a red poppy. She believed this was a powerful way of keeping alive the faith that John McCrae had urged in his poem. In November 1918, a meeting was held with YMCA secretaries from around the world providing Moina Michael with a chance to discuss the poem and her decision to wear a red poppy. This inspired the French YMCA secretary, Anna Guérun to take the idea further and begin selling poppies to raise money for those affected by the war - particularly widows, orphans, veterans and their families.
The poppy soon became widely accepted throughout the allied nations as a symbol of remembrance which was to be worn on Armistice Day. Poppies were first sold in Australia in 1921 and continue to be sold by the RSL in the lead up to Remembrance Day every year to raise the much needed funds for the organisation’s valuable welfare work.
Colonel McCrae's Poem
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
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.
Colonel McCrae learned of his appointment as consulting physician to the First British Army while in a military hospital. He died within a week of the announcement, on the 28th of January and was buried with full military honours in the cemetery at Wimereux, France.