Address to the House Of Representatives: Remembrance Day

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

And can I associate the Australian Labor Party with the fine words that we’ve just heard from the minister.

It’s 102 years since the guns fell silent on the Western Front in the war that was meant to end all wars.

Three hundred and thirty thousand Australians enlisted in that war, 60,000 of whom were killed.

It’s an extraordinary price that was paid from our country, which at that time had a population of just four million.

It’s an almost unimaginable sacrifice.

But, more than a century down the track, we are left with just a small clue to what that sacrifice felt like in the fact that you cannot visit in our country today a city or a town of more than a couple of hundred people without finding in it a memorial to those who served and died in the First World War.

When you look at those memorials, really closely, you can almost feel the aching need that people had to put those memorials in place.

This wasn’t jingoism or populism.

This was just pain.

It was solemn pain.

For the families and the friends of those loved ones, the voice of their loved ones was given expression by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae:

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

That this experience happened in the first 20 years of the federation of our country meant that, from the very earliest moment, we were imbued with a deep sense of reverence and gratitude to those who have served in the Australian Defence Force.

And today is the day, as the minister said, that we give thanks to all of those who have worn and continue to wear our nation’s uniform — and in particular, in respect of the 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation, at the dawn “and in the morning, we will remember them”.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

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