All you need to know about Remembrance Day 2018

This Sunday 11 November, Australians will pin poppies to their clothes and stop for a minute’s silence to commemorate Remembrance Day. While it is already an important day on the national calendar, Remembrance Day has special significance in 2018 as it reaches its centenary (100 year anniversary).

To get your Remembrance Day knowledge up to scratch, we’ve compiled all you need to know about this special event including its history, traditions and where you can pay your respects.

History

On 11 November 1918 – four years after conflict broke out – World War I came to an end. Crippled by bloodshed and on the brink of total collapse, the Germany empire decided to sign an armistice (or peace treaty) to cease war with the Allied Powers. World War I left around 37 million casualties, with over 16 million military personnel and civilians killed. Out of the 330,000 Australians who served in World War I, over 60,000 were killed during conflict.

After the global devastation caused by World War I, Australian journalist Edward Honey proposed the observation of silence to commemorate victims. The idea caught on, and in 1918 Armistice Day was created to pay tribute to those who had died or suffered in the war.

In the aftermath of World War II, Armistice Day was renamed to Remembrance Day to include victims of all wars and armed conflicts. To this day Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, South Africa, the United States, Bermuda, Ireland and New Zealand still pay tribute in the same fashion – observing a minute’s silence at the eleventh hour (11am) of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (November 11) each year.

Traditions

The Flanders poppy

In the lead up to Remembrance Day, you’ll no doubt see people wearing red poppy flowers pinned to their clothes. This is because it’s one of, if not the most, iconic symbols of Remembrance Day.

The red poppy derives its importance from In Flanders Field, a poem penned by Canadian military doctor John McCrae during World War I. McCrae details how red poppies started to bloom over the graves of fallen soldiers in the Flanders area of Belgium and Northern France, which was a notable battlefield during the war. For this reason, the Flanders poppy was chosen as a symbol of remembrance. The flower’s vivid red leaves are also said to represent the bloodshed of fallen comrades within military folklore.

If you want to purchase your own replica of the Flanders poppy, visit your local RSL, Woolworths or Officeworks. You may also find RSL representatives selling poppies in shopping and community centres in the lead up to Remembrance Day, or donate to the Poppy Appeal.

The unknown soldier

After Armistice Day’s establishment in 1918, the unknown soldier became a way to represent those who were killed in conflict.

The body of the original unknown soldier was recovered from the battlefields of Belgium and Northern France before being entombed in Westminster Abbey on Remembrance Day in 1920. France also entombed an unknown soldier under the Arc de Triomphe on this date, as other allied nations began to treat their fallen comrades in this way. 

In 1993, an unknown Australian soldier was finally brought home. To mark the 75th anniversary of World War I’s end, Unknown Australian Soldier was entombed in the Australian War Memorial with a bayonet, a spring of wattle and soil from a battlefield. To this day, the Unknown Soldier is a symbol of all those who have been killed during war.

Where to pay your respects

You can recognise Remembrance Day in major cities around Australia by attending a commemoration ceremony. Your local RSL will most likely be holding a service, so contact your local branch to find out more information.

Adelaide: South Australian National War Memorial (190 North Terrace, Adelaide SA 5000) from 10:45am.

Brisbane: ANZAC Square (285 Ann St, Brisbane City QLD 4000) from 10:15am

Canberra: Australian War Memorial (Treloar Cres, Campbell ACT 2612) from 10:30am

Darwin: Darwin Cenotaph War Memorial (The Esplanade, Bicentennial Park, Darwin NT 0800)

Hobart: Hobart Cenotaph (McVilly Dr, Hobart TAS 7000) from 10:30am

Melbourne: Shrine of Remembrance (Birdwood Ave, Melbourne VIC 3001) from 10:15am

Perth: Kings Park State War Memorial (68 Fraser Ave, Kings Park WA 6005) from 11am

Sydney: ANZAC Memorial (Liverpool St, Hyde Park South NSW 2000) from 10am

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