Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Centenary of Armistice
At 11:00 am on 11 November, just over two weeks' time, the world will pause to commemorate the centenary of the ending of the Great War, the so-called war to end all wars. Some 416,000 Australians enlisted to fight in that war when our population was just 4.5 million people. That's about one in 10 Australians. But if you consider that those who enlisted were males of a relatively young age, something like one in three of that cohort of Australians enlisted to fight in the Great War. No wonder it has such an enduring, ongoing, lasting impact in the life of this country. Of those 416,000 who enlisted, we know that 60,000 failed to return to this country. They are buried in the cliffs of Gallipoli, in the sand dunes of the Middle East and the muddy trenches of the Western Front.
So, on this Centenary of Armistice, the centenary of Remembrance Day, it is appropriate that, throughout this country and across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, we pause to remember the sacrifices not only of those Australians generations ago but of every Australian who has served this country over the succeeding 100 years. And I'm sure I join with all colleagues in this place, whatever our political hue, in encouraging people in our own communities, our own electorates, our townships and our cities to participate in these celebrations. In my own electorate of Menzies on the Saturday the VetRide organisation is organising a ride—100 kilometres for 100 years—in which up to about 100 riders will participate in a ride from the Templestowe RSL into the Shrine of Remembrance and then on a big loop, returning to the Templestowe RSL later in the afternoon.
The next day, Remembrance Day itself, at the Doncaster RSL there will be an event, a cooee march commemorating the first of the great marches from Gilgandra to Sydney, in which people were recruited to enlist in the Great War. There will be a flyover by a Tiger Moth, a remembrance service and the usual events associated with Remembrance Day. There will also be a commemorative service at the Warrandyte RSL. In addition to that, the Real organisation, which is an organisation for disabled people, is mounting an exhibition as part of these commemorations of Remembrance Day.
We, as Australians, owe a great deal to those who have served in the uniform of this country over the decades leading up to today. At 11 am on 11 November, it's an appropriate time for all of us to remember them. Lest we forget.