At 11am on the 11th of November in 1918, the Allied Nations and a defeated Germany signed the Armistice ending World War 1. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the War ended and 20 million lay in graves across Europe and much of the World.
In May of the next year an Australian journalist and WWI Veteran, Edward George Honey, wrote a letter to the London Evening News suggesting what he believed to be a fitting remembrance…
In the culmination of victory, I, for one, will find myself thinking back to the mad, glad days of blind ’14. I will often find myself pondering again that look on the faces of Kitchener’s recruits as, awakening from the madness and gladness of a false Paradise, they went out to wipe this falseness and insecurity away. The crusade is over – the falsity is swept away but in France, in Flanders, and in the deserts of the East stand crosses unnumbered to mark the splendor of their sacrifice.
Can we not spare some fragments of those hours of peace rejoicing for a silent tribute to the mighty dead? I would ask for five minutes, five silent minutes of national remembrance. A very sacred intercession. Communion with the Glorious Dead who won us peace, and from the communion new strength, hope and faith in the morrow. Church services, too, if you will, but in the street, the home, the theatre, anywhere, indeed, where Englishmen and their women chance to be, surely in this five minutes of bitter-sweet silence there will be service enough.
King George V, on November 17, 1919, made an official proclamation “that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.” Mr. Honey attended the rehearsal for the first Celebration of Remembrance Day at Buckingham Palace by the invitation of the King.
If we’ve learned nothing since 1918, two immutable Laws of Nature stand out. Peace is an elusive prize, hard to grasp and even harder to hold. And there are always young men and women who are willing to risk their lives to attain that prize. Thank God for them. Two minutes of “Communion with the Glorious Dead” is little to ask.
To Fallen Comrades…