Today I came to The Avenue of Honour on Tryon Road in Lindfield, just to spend a few minutes reflecting on the remarkable men and women that have fought for this country. Today is the 100th anniversary of the end to the hostilities of the first world war.
At the beginning of that war, the population of Australia was four and a half million and from that 416,000 enlisted. An almost unimaginable number of 60,000 lost their lives during “The Great War” and a further 156,000 were gassed, injured or taken prisoner.
The Australian War Memorial website says: Australia’s involvement in the First World War began when Britain and Germany went to war on 4 August 1914, and both Prime Minister Joseph Cook and then Opposition Leader Andrew Fisher, who were in the midst of an election campaign, pledged full support for Britain. The outbreak of war was greeted in Australia, as in many other places, with great enthusiasm.
But, as Brendan Nelson, the director of the Australian War Memorial said today, the eleventh of the eleventh has transformed in recent times from a celebration of the end of war in to a moment of sombre reflection. I know I am here today simply to take a moment to think about that level of sacrifice given so that we may live in peace today.
Lest we forget.