Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

Today marked the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, the official end to World War I.  Countries all over the world celebrate the day.  In the United States it is known as Veteran's Day.  In Australia, it is called Remembrance Day.

My bus route to work takes me by Parliament and the War Memorial and I saw several service men today, gathering for the Remembrance Day service.  Many people were wearing poppies on their lapel, a tradition that owes its existence to Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields."

"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."

I think that this is one of those days, that no matter where you are, there is a underlying unifying element of humanity.  At work, we watched the Remembrance Day service on TV and observed the moment of silence at 11am.  The day made me think of one of our first days in Australia when we visited the Australian War Memorial Museum.  It's an amazing place—think of it as a mix between the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum and the History Museum—a vast place dedicated to the entire history of Australia's world war contributions.

 The museum is host to all sorts of war memorabilia, including fighter planes, old uniforms, bravery medals, and intricate dioramas of battle scenes.  The archives of the museum have an entire database of every Australian who has fought in a war.  On the day that we visited, many people were in the archive room, searching their family history.

 Australia is very proud of it's war history.  Shortly after it established itself as a sovereign country, World War I broke out.  Historians believe that the war efforts played a huge part in bringing the young country together and establishing a patriotic ethos in its people. That patriotic pride is evident in every room and every display at the museum. The Australian War Museum is a powerful place and a great place to spend an afternoon, even if you're not a history buff like me.
Memorial for Armed Forces Nurses who died in war


  1. It was such a beautiful day, I spent the morning at Old Parliament House :)

  2. wow- I didn't know that was Veteran's day in other countries (Or even exactly why we celebrate it). How naive of me.


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