Remembrance Day 2014 – Origins of the remembrance silence

Origins of the remembrance silence

A Melbourne journalist, Edward George Honey, first proposed a period of five minutes’ silence for national remembrance, in a letter published in the London Evening News on 8 May 1919:

Five little minutes only. 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.The suggestion came to the attention of King George V. After testing the practicality of a five-minute silence—a trial was held with five Grenadier Guardsmen standing to attention for the silence—the King issued a proclamation on 7 November 1919 which called for a two-minute silence. His proclamation 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’.

At 11 am on 11 November 1919, Australians, for the first time, paused and stood in silent tribute to the men and women of the Australian Imperial Force who died on battlefields in the Middle East, Gallipoli and Europe.

In 1997 the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, issued a Proclamation urging all Australians to observe the one-minute silence on Remembrance Day to remember those who have died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.”

From the Department of Veterans Affairs


Remembrance Day 2014 is on Tuesday. There was a time when we would stop what we were doing. It didn’t matter what we were doing, we stopped and everyone joined in. Companies called their production lines to a standstill, people in the middle of phone calls would agree to stop speaking and drivers would get out of their cars. It would only last 60 seconds. Everyone would stop for a minute.

Across Australia I hope we all start to give greater respect to this one minutes silence.

Whilst there will be a multitude of community commemorations, church services and the like understandably not everyone can attend these. If however; we all choose to stand still, just for that minute, that collective minute of silence and contemplation is a huge mark of respect for the people who gave their lives for us all.

It is also worth considering what lessons we can learn about today’s modern conflicts in the one minute of silence. Sometimes it can seem as if it is harder to stop than it is to keep going. In reality it is easy to stop.

If you are able to, please come down to Unley’s Soldier’s Memorial Garden for the commemoration service and stay after for some light refreshments in the Unley Civic Center. Join the Facebook Event and feel free to invite other to do the same by following the link here.

Remembrance Day

Categories: Community in Unley

2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Lachlan Clyne, Unley Mayor and commented:

    I found a piece from the Department of Veterans Affairs which I felt was worth understanding as it relates to the history of the silence we observe on Remembrance Day.


  1. Cr. Don PalmerThey Shall Not Grow Old

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