90 second statement – Remembrance Day
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (13:46): The last shot of World War I was fired on Monday, 11 November 1918. Three hundred thousand Australians went to the Great War: 60,000 died and 156,000 were wounded or taken prisoner. On the first anniversary of the armistice, in 1919, one minute’s silence was instituted as part of the main commemorative ceremony.
The Flanders poppy, which many of us are wearing here today, became accepted throughout the allied nations as the flower of remembrance. The red poppies were among the first plants that sprouted from the devastation of the battlefields of northern France and Belgium. Folklore suggests the poppies were vivid red from having been nurtured in ground drenched with blood.
The 11th of the 11th was the day the Great War ended. It was meant to be the war to end all wars. It was a day to remember what had passed, to show our appreciation and to celebrate peace. After the end of World War II in 1945, the Australian and British governments changed the name to Remembrance Day to commemorate all war dead. Unfortunately, there have been many wars since the Great War, and today many conflicts are ongoing.
As I and many of my colleagues paused for a minute’s silence in Canberra today, I thought about the many men and women in my electorate who have served. I would like to thank the people who laid wreaths on my behalf at services across the electorate of Hinkler. In particular, I thank my wife, Alison—who continues to put up with me—who laid a wreath at the Bundaberg service today, and Peter Carey, who laid a wreath at the service in Hervey Bay at their new memorial.