On 11 November each year, the ceremonies held around Remembrance Day allow us to pay our respect to all the men and women who fought and lost their lives during the First World War and during more recent conflicts…. This commemoration to the Unknown Soldier is not meant to glorify war over peace. Its purpose is to honour the memory of all those men and women who laid down their lives for their country. They are the unsung heroes whom we commemorate today: the aviators, the sailors, the nurses, the members of the resistance, the elite commandos as well as the foot soldiers – their hardship and their ultimate sacrifice taught us to show courage, to be bold as well as resilient, to believe in ourselves, to believe in a world where the notions of democracy and solidarity should prevail.
In Melbourne, following the Official commemorations at the Shrine of Remembrance in presence of all the local dignitaries, a smaller, more intimate, French ceremony is held inside the Shrine, organised by the Association of the Anciens Combattants du Victoria. This is the opportunity to renew our appreciation of the faith, loyalty and sacrifice of the 45,000 Australian Diggers who died on the Western Front during World War One, along side the 2 million French Poilus who were killed or went missing. School children,friends and veterans come along to pay tribute to their elders.
This year, 2018, the 11th of November has taken a more significant meaning, with a series of special commemorations in France culminating in the PEACE FORUM in Paris from the 11th till the 13th of November 2018. This forum matters because peace can never be taken for granted. This forum which wants to become an annual event is based on a simple idea: international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring durable peace.
International cooperation is already something that Australia and France practice every day as our enduring friendship illustrates.