Today marks the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the fighting in World War I.
It was called “The Great War” not because it was necessarily good, but because the world had never before known war, death or destruction on that scale.
It was supposed to be the “war that ends all wars”. If only it had been.
Yet the 20th century saw another “world war” and a seemingly never-ending succession of national and international conflicts that have continued into the 21st. As though World War I was not brutal enough, humans have worked hard over the past hundred years to develop even more efficient ways of killing each other.
Despite all that fighting, I live in a country that is free, democratic, and prosperous. That privilege is mine, and indeed every Australian’s, to a very large degree because of those who have fought to defend and preserve our freedom.
This morning, I paused at 11am, even though I was home on my own and there was already no noise. It was the intent of that minute of silence that was different.
We do not stop because it’s a nice thing to do, or because it’s expected of us. It cannot be a mere token, for that would be meaningless.
We do not stop for a minute’s silence to glorify the wars. We do not stop to rejoice in our own nation’s or our allies’ victories. We do not stop to continue the hate, nor to protest. It’s noot about what “side” we were on.
We stop to be thankful for those who fought. We remember tha in addition to the millions of soldiers, there were also doctors and nurses and various other support personnel who served. Many gave their lives, others came home damaged in one way or another. Not a single one of them was unaffected by what they experienced at war.
We stop to remember, because we must never allow ourselves to forget.
It is only by remembering the horrors of the past that we have any hope of not repeating them.
To all who served: I thank you from the bottom of my free and privileged Australian heart.