A tribute to Australia’s service men and women from the Shore Cadet Unit Support Company Commander, Georgia.
On Remembrance Day, we pause to think about the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the guns fell silent on the Western Front after more than four years of continuous warfare.
The allied armies had driven the German invaders back, after inflicting heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months. The German leaders signed an Armistice, bringing an end to the First World War. It had brought death and destruction at a level the world had never seen. Over four years, more than 330,000 Australians served overseas, and more than 60,000 of them did not survive. The social impact of these losses cast a long shadow over the post-war decades. It was thought to be the ‘war to end all wars’. It was not. 2022 marks 104 years since the end of WWI and 77 years since the end of WWII. In that time, Australia’s Defence Force has fought in many more wars worldwide.
On Remembrance Day we pay tribute to those who have served their country in war. Over 100,000 Australians have died fighting to defend our country. Many, many more were wounded and traumatised. Countless families have been shattered. We remember them all and honour their sacrifice and service. Whilst its origins are dedicated to WWI, Remembrance Day is a time to remember those who died or suffered for Australia's cause in all wars and armed conflicts. We must also remember those who fought in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and in recent conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as all the men and women who sacrifice and serve to protect our country. They, like those before them, accept the risks and dangers of service, which should not be forgotten.
We also recognise all those who contributed on the home front, supplying material and moral support to the Australians serving in the war effort. We reflect on the families, including Wenona families, who cared for their loved ones who returned home with injuries and trauma. We also reflect on the impact that military life has had on loved ones - the parents, partners, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, of those who have served and serve today.
As part of Remembrance Day, we reflect on the number of young soldiers in WWI who were aged less than 19 (the required age to serve overseas). An estimated 250,000 of these young men were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice; recruitment officers turning a blind eye to their age. They were the same age as many of us students are now.
Within the Australian WWI armed forces, were over 1,000 Indigenous Australians. Though while serving as part of the army, they were usually treated and paid as equals to other soldiers, on returning home, they often received little support and were denied access to the same benefits. They fought for a country that failed to recognise their people and their ongoing connection to the land. Often their service and sacrifice are forgotten. They too are remembered for their service today.
Shore Cadet Unit Support Company Commander