Lest We Forget PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 11 November 2012 12:08

Remembrance Day ceremonies have been held across Australia today as people pause to remember soldiers who have died in past and present conflicts.

Ceremonies marking the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month remember the moment when guns fell silent in 1918, ending the hostilities of World War One. The sombre ceremonies are being commemorated with a minute's silence at 11am (local time) at memorial sites across the country.

With the realities of war ever present for Australian soldiers and their families, defence force chief General David Hurley says Remembrance Day commemorations are very much about the here and now.

Delivering the commemorative address at the national memorial ceremony in Canberra, General Hurley said current defence personnel understood the sacrifice of those who went before them. He thanked the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan for their sacrifices.

"You remind us that today's ceremony is not only about generations past but about our generation, our times and our today," he told the crowd of several thousand gathered at the Australian War Memorial.

"The brass plaques inside the memorial may dull, but we know that your memories do not."

Nine soldiers killed in Afghanistan since October 2011 were added to the roll of honour: Captain Bryce Duffy, Corporal Ashley Birt, Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, Sergeant Blaine Diddams, Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Private Robert Poate, Sapper James Martin, Private Nathyanael Galagher, and Lance Corporal Marvyn McDonald.

"These men conducted themselves professionally, performed demanding and testing jobs well and represented Australia with pride," General Hurley said. "They have earned their place among their forebears in the roll of honour."

The men's families were at the ceremony and were among the first to see the new plaque on the roll of honour.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Prime Minister Julia Gillard laid wreaths on the Stone of Remembrance and in the Hall of Memory.

Wreaths were also laid by the ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Speaker Anna Burke, coalition defence spokesman David Johnston, High Court Chief Justice Robert French, defence force leaders, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Later, 102 school children from across Australia placed poppies by the stone to represent the 102,000 Australian servicemen and women who had fallen in war.

In Canberra, thousands of people gathered at the Australian War Memorial for the national ceremony.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce joined others in laying wreaths at the site.

During the ceremony, 102 school students representing the 102,000 Australian service men and women who have died in wars laid poppies before a minute of silence was observed.

Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley paid a special tribute to those lost in Afghanistan in his address.

"This is particularly on my mind today as I remember the grief over our most recent losses," he said.

General Hurley read the names of nine soldiers who have died in Afghanistan in the last year, and whose names have been added to the roll of honour in the War Memorial.

"Your sacrifice is understood and will not be forgotten," he said.

He told the crowd Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on the cost of war, loss for families, and the warmth of mateship, saying Australia's war-time experience has shaped its national character.

Kokoda veteran Bob Iskov was among the hundreds of people who attended the Remembrance Day service in Melbourne.

The 92-year-old World War II veteran read the Ode of Remembrance as part of the official proceedings which also commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign in Papua New Guinea.

"It's good to see it's still being kept up," Mr Iskov said after the service at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Victoria's governor Alex Chernov told the crowd that Australians joined with their global compatriots every year on this date in solemn, silent reflection to honour those who fought in World War I.

"We pause, we reflect, and with grateful thanks, remember them," Mr Chernov said.

Special guests from Belgium also attended the Victorian service.

The Menin Gate Buglers hail from the local fire brigade in Ypres, where they have been playing the Last Post at eight o'clock every night since November 11, 1928 - except during the German occupation of World War II.

They played the Last Post at the Victorian service on Sunday before the minute of silence at 11am (AEDT), marking the the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when guns fell silent in 1918, ending WWI hostilities.

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