Today, November 11, is Remembrance Day. Each year, Remembrance Day gives us pause to remember those who have fought and died in wartime service for our country. The 11th November marks the end of World War I in 1918, when the armistice between Germany and the Triple Entente was signed and guns fell silent across the Western Front at 11am. While the date is tied to the First World War, the commemoration acknowledges the sacrifice of servicemen and servicewomen across all wartime conflicts. Remembrance Day is observed across the Commonwealth of Nations.
In Australia, we commemorate at 11am, beginning typically with a bugler performing The Last Post, followed by a minute’s silence, and ending with a recital of the Ode of Remembrance. It serves as a sobering and poignant reminder to us all, to remember the sacrifices made for our freedoms by those who came before us and gave their lives to protect their nation.
Here at Inclusive Australia, we would like to particularly shed light on the diversity of those who have served our country. Over the four-year span of World War I, over 420,000 men volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force (known today as the Australian Defence Force). Due to strict rules around recruitment and ethnicity, most of them were of British origin at the beginning of the War; however, over time, volunteers diminished as casualty lists grew longer and conscription referendums were defeated, so the government began to accept more men from diverse cultural backgrounds into its armed forces. Today, we know that several thousand Aboriginal Australians were enlisted. Many of these Aboriginal men have been recognised for their bravery in combat, with Privates Albert Knight and William Rawlings receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal, respectively. War became an equaliser; Aboriginal men were reportedly treated as brothers alongside their fellow diggers, and experienced freedom from the discrimination they faced at home. Today, we remember that the cultural makeup of the Australian armed forces was and is not uniform, and we celebrate the diversity of those who have shown the ultimate bravery in serving their country.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
Please take this opportunity to connect with and support your local Returned & Services League (RSL), which advocates for the benefits and welfare of service veterans. Connect with your local Find your state branch or local RSL at www.rslaustralia.org
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