The minute that stops the nation

Published on Ms Eliza Bavin (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Mack (photographer)

Topic(s): Remembrance Day

File image: ABMT Candice O'Keefe, ABMT Cody Linsley, ABET Pia Bartl and POET Mike Von Tucker sell poppies in Sydney City for Remembrance Day 2011. (photo: ABIS Lee-Anne Mack)
File image: ABMT Candice O'Keefe, ABMT Cody Linsley, ABET Pia Bartl and POET Mike Von Tucker sell poppies in Sydney City for Remembrance Day 2011.

On the 11th of November Navy personnel will be volunteering their time to assist with Remembrance Day events. At 11am on 11th November each year, Australians stop what they are doing for a minute of silence to remember those who have given their lives for the country.

Warrant Officer (WO) Gary Clark will be coordinating the volunteers, to ensure the event runs smoothly.

“It’s a very worthwhile event to volunteer for, so although it is a big job, the benefits outweigh everything else. I encourage anyone located in the Sydney area to volunteer and take part in this important day,” said WO Clark.

Warrant Officer Steven Downey has been volunteering for the last few years and says it is a moving occasion.

“It’s not just an important day for the defence force, it is important to every Australian, and it’s great to be able to help out, and give back to the community on the day,” said WO Downey.

“Many of those working in the CBD will come out of their offices and fill the streets to share a minute of silence with everyone at 1100. It’s a nice moment when young junior sailors can wear their uniforms with pride and pay their respects to those who lost their lives for us with all Australians,” said WO Downey.

“I’ve been in the Navy for 33 years and have always volunteered when I can, but I have definitely become more involved in the last three or so years as we started with the stalls around the city.”

Those volunteering will be taking on a number of tasks, including manning a stall in Martin Place to raising money for Legacy and handing out poppies. There will also be volunteers handing out poppies at the front gate of HMAS Kuttabul and all around Sydney CBD.

The poppies are a significant symbol of WWI as they were the first flowers that sprouted from the devastated battlefields of Northern France and Belgium.

In 1918 the German-called armistice ended World War I, bringing to an end four years of hostilities that saw 61,919 Australians die at sea, in the air, and on foreign soil.

In 1997 the Governor-General of Australia, Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11 November as Remembrance Day. He urged all Australians to observe one minutes’ silence at 1100 on 11 November “to remember the sacrifice of those who died or otherwise suffered in Australia’s cause in wars and war-like conflicts”.

Few Australian families were left untouched by the events of World War I - ‘the war to end all wars’ or ‘The Great War’. Most had lost a father, son, daughter, brother, sister or friend.

At this year’s Remembrance Day service Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, will lay the memorial wreath at the Cenotaph in Martin Place.

Another memorial wreath laying will take place at the remembrance service at Concord Hospital, by Captain Dagg.

At 11:00am the Last Post will be sounded and will be followed by one minute of silence around the country.