Remembrance Day 2020
At 5am on 11 November 1918, three German government representatives accepted the Armistice terms presented to them by an allied commander, General Ferdinand Foch of the French Army. The Armistice became effective at 11am the same day and the 4-year long First World War ended.
After World War II the Australian Government agreed to the United Kingdom's proposal that Armistice Day be renamed Remembrance Day to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars.
In October 1997 the then Governor-General issued a Proclamation declaring 11 November as Remembrance Day - a day to remember the sacrifice of those who have died for Australia in wars and conflicts.
NSW Remembrance Service
11am on 11 November is a time for us to all remember and honour the memory of the men and women who have served and are currently serving. NSW's Remembrance Day Service, hosted by the NSW Government, is held at the Cenotaph in Martin Place, Sydney. This year, due to COVID-19, attendance at the Service is limited to 100 invited guests only. However, you can still take part in the commemoration by watching the live stream of the service on the NSW Government website nsw.gov.au/remembranceday from 10:30am on Wednesday 11 November.
A number of bell towers across the state will ring their bells at 11am and we can all observe one minute of silence to remember the service and sacrifice of our veterans.
The red poppy
The Flanders poppy was immortalised by Lieutenant-Colonel John McRae's poem In Flanders Fields (1915), and became the enduring symbol of the war for veterans and remembered as the only flower to bloom in the shattered landscape of no man's land. The artillery shells and shrapnel stirred up the earth in France and Belgium and exposed the seeds to the light they needed to germinate. According to folklore they were red from the blood of fallen soldiers.
Mcrae served as a medical officer with the first Canadian Contingent in France during the First World War. When in charge of a small first-aid post at the second battle if Ypres in 1915, he wrote the now very famous poem
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.
The verses were apparently sent anonymously to the English magazine, Punch, which published them under the title, In Flanders’ Fields. Colonel McCrae died while on active duty in May 1918.
The poppy soon became widely accepted throughout the allied nations as the flower of remembrance to be worn on Armistice Day. The Australian Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League (now known as the RSL) first sold poppies for Armistice Day in 1921. Each poppy was sold for a shilling: five pence was donated to a charity for French children, six pence went to the League's own welfare work, and one penny went to the League's national coffers. Today the RSL continues to sell poppies for Remembrance Day to raise funds for its welfare work. This year people can donate to the RSL's Poppy Appeal online at poppyappeal.com.au
Schools' resource pack
The NSW Office for Veterans Affairs has also developed a schools' resource pack with information on the history and importance of the poppy. It includes a guide to make your own poppy. You're welcome to download a copy of the pack.
Other Ways to Commemorate
The NSW Government and RSL NSW encourages everyone to mark this Remembrance Day. RSL NSW has provided some other commemorative ideas on their website rslnsw.org.au/commemoration/remembrance-day.
Red poppies will be projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House on the evening of 11 November.
#RememberToRemember #RemembranceDay #WeWillRememberThem