Silence is Human

The interior courtyard of the Australian War Memorial with two soldiers standing sentry.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Today is Remembrance Day.

We bow our heads in silence to remember all the soldiers who were killed on active duty. This year we are asked to pause for just one minute longer to remember those who continue to suffer after they have left the battle ground. Wars kill, maim and etch themselves indelibly in the psyche of returned soldiers.

The war is never over for the returned soldiers and their families.

Silence.

This pause is observed on Remembrance Day throughout the Commonwealth of Nations. The Australian War Memorial says it was a South African and an Australian who separately proposed the silence which first became part of Remembrance Day observances in 1919. But this was not the first time a respectful moment of quiet was used to remember the war dead. In Cape Town silence was observed during the Great War when South African deaths on the front were particularly heavy. As I wrote earlier this year, silence for the war dead was first observed in Australia on Brisbane’s first Anzac Day observance in 1916. Continue reading