AMID the never ending bustling that roars through the heart of London, silence fell over the Australian War Memorial as High Commissioner George Brandis hosted a memorial service to commemorate Armistice Day.
Hundreds of people gathered, including Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and various Australian dignitaries to pay their respects to the servicemen and women ahead of Armistice Day.
Mr Brandis said in London, Paris and in many places around the world, Australians would pause to mark and commemorate one of the most savage conflicts the world has ever known.
“At the time Australia had a small professional army but almost all but a few of those 420,000 Australians were volunteers,” he said.
“There were many who had responsibilities to their family and children.”
The Australian High Commissioner, who acknowledged that post-traumatic stress disorder had also tragically claimed lives of those who fought, said it was necessary to pay tribute and to honour the memory of those brave young people.
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Mr Cosgrove, who labelled the war as madness and a travesty, said we could only imagine the absolute relief of the soldiers and their loved ones.
“We can only think what it must have been like for mothers to kiss the cheeks of their sons who they never thought they’d see again,” he said.
“I’m sure the handshakes of normally stoic fathers turned to tears but sadly for many peace came too late.
“War stole lives and futures.”
The Governor-General said for those back home, the armistice was bitter sweet.
“When peace came we found that we had changed, that our nation had changed,” he said.
“We discovered a new sense of self.
“Today a centenary on, each of us comes to this memorial with our own prayers and thoughts.
“We honour those who are far from home.
“We remember this long ended but not forgotten war.”
While the service’s audio was not working, Father Martin Hislop lead the national anthem which everyone joined in.
Australian father Lindsay Jordan, who was a petty officer in the navy for 20 years, attended the service with his family, including his two young children.
He said it was important to bring children to memorial services so they can learn of the history.
“Making sure that knowledge continues,” he said.
Mr Jordan’s grandfather also served during WWI between 1916 and 1918.
His son, Jett, 9, said it was important to remember people who died during WWI and WWII.
The youngster said he was proud of his dad.
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