Commemorating Remembrance Day
At 11 am on 11 November 1918, Germany called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) and accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender, bringing an end to World War One. The four-year conflict had left between nine and 13 million dead and as many as one third of these with no grave.
By signing, the Germans agreed to immediately cease hostilities, withdraw to the east bank of the Rhine within 30 days, surrender their fleet and heavy guns, and release all prisoners of war, among other conditions.
In many areas, the fighting continued right up until 11.00am on the day of the Armistice, leading to 2,738 deaths and a further 8,206 injuries.
In Australia and other allied countries, including New Zealand, Canada and the United States, 11 November became known as Armistice Day – a day to remember those who died in World War One.
The tradition of stopping at 11am started on the very first Armistice Day in 1919 and continues to this day. It was initially suggested by an Australian journalist living in London, and was made official with a proclamation by King George V. His Majesty requested that “...all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years, becoming universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war.
After World War Two, the Australian Government agreed to the United Kingdom’s proposal that Armistice Day be renamed Remembrance Day to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars.
The resurgence of Remembrance Day became official on 30 October 1997, when the Governor-General proclaimed that ‘(a) 11 November in each year shall be known and observed as Remembrance Day; and (b) all Australians are urged to observe, unless impracticable, one minute’s silence at 11:00 on Remembrance Day each year’.
Today the loss of Australian lives from all wars and conflicts is commemorated on Remembrance Day.
On 11 November 2020, the official Remembrance Day ceremony (usually held at the Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane CBD) will be closed to the public to comply with COVID-safe practices. However, there are still meaningful ways to commemorate—both online and in person at Anzac Square.
Visitors can embark on an interactive journey from the First World War to today inside the Anzac Square Memorial Galleries and leave a poppy or laurel wreath to honour the fallen.
Remote visitors can commemorate differently by conducting a virtual service, requesting a poppy be placed at Anzac Square on their behalf, or listening to State Library’s award-winning program of Anzac Stories using Alexa or Google Assistant.
You may like to watch the live stream of the official Remembrance Day ceremony from the Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane’s ANZAC Square, broadcast on RSL Queensland's Facebook page from 10:45am on 11 November.
Discover ways you can commemorate and don't forget to share your Remembrance Day experience with us by using the hashtags #AnzacSquare and #RemembranceDay2020 on social media.