Dear Members of the Marcellin Family
At 11:00am on Wednesday this week, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the College paused to remember and pray for all people who have died or suffered from war and conflict.
Please find below my Remembrance Day Address to the College.
Remembrance Day Address
Every year at 11:00am on the 11th November—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—we pause to remember those men and women who have died or suffered in all wars, conflicts and peace operations.
Why this date and time? Because it marks the time that the horror of the First World War came to an end on this day in 1918 – 102 years ago. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
On both occasions, 1918 and 1945, as the world welcomed peace, thousands returned home to much fanfare, and their loved ones. Thousands more however, never made the journey home.
On this day in 1993, 27 years ago, to mark the occasion, a ceremony took place at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. An unknown soldier, killed in the First World War, was buried and his eulogy was given by the then Prime Minister, Paul Keating. This person was, and will remain, a powerful symbol of our identity and our values as a nation. Mr Keating began his eulogy with these words:
We do not know this Australian’s name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances – whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children, we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was.
Yet he has always been among those whom we have honoured. We know that he was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the Western Front. One of the 416,000 Australians who volunteered for service in the First World War. One of the 324,000 Australians who served overseas in that war and one of the 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil. One of the 100,000 Australians who have died in wars this century.
He is all of them. And he is one of us.
Powerful, meaningful and beautiful words.
“He is one of us.”
So today we think about, we honour and we pray for, not just for this unknown Australian soldier, but for every person who has been killed or injured as a result of wars and conflict. Just like this unknown soldier, all these people had their own story, their own families, their own friends – their own lives. We pray to God in gratitude for their sacrifice of love.
Our Christian faith tells us much about the power of love – the cross on Calvary is our symbol of the ultimate act of love.
And in the words of Jesus himself in St John’s Gospel:
“No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends”
Lest we forget.