Thousands mark 'new era' Remembrance Day
Crowds have gathered at memorials across Australia on the 87th anniversary of Armistice Day to pay tribute to those affected by war.
At 11:00am on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front after more than four years of fighting.
That moment is still observed as Remembrance Day each year.
Thousands gathered at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to mark the first Remembrance Day after the passing of the last World War I veteran who served overseas.
The chief of the Australian Defence Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston, delivered the commemorative address, telling the crowd last month's death of Lieutenant William Allan marked the end of an era.
Lieutenant Allan was the last surviving World War I veteran who had served overseas.
In Sydney, hundreds of people gathered at the cenotaph to offer their prayers and thoughts.
This year's ceremony was the first to be held without a World War I veteran in attendance.
The families of those who served were joined by veterans of other wars, along with dignitaries including New South Wales Governor Marie Bashir, federal Health Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Morris Iemma.
Prayers for the fallen were offered and wreaths were placed at the base of the cenotaph, before the sounding of the Last Post and a reading of the Ode by the New South Wales RSL president Don Rowe.
The last surviving World War I veteran, 106-year-old Jack Ross, has been marking the day from a nursing home in Bendigo.
He was 18 when he joined the Imperial Force but did not see active service.
Major General Jeffery then reflected on the 60,000 Australians who died and the 167,000 wounded in World War I.
"We lost nearly 6,000 killed and wounded in one day in the Battle of Termeil, it was an enormous effort, unfortunately we suffered the highest casualty rate of any army in the war."
School children have played a big role in the Remembrance Day service in Melbourne, with students from around Victoria marking the anniversary.
The sound of the Last Post evoked strong emotions at this morning's ceremony.
The death of the last veteran who saw active service has not reduced the significance of the day for the hundreds of school children at the shrine.
They laid a field of poppies as a mark of respect.
Around 1,000 people gathered at South Australia's War Memorial on North Terrace in Adelaide and held a minute's silence.
RSL state president Jock Statton says he is pleased that younger generations are honouring Australians who have served in conflicts overseas
It was 87 years ago, Nov. 11, 1918, at the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" that World War I came to an end. Ever since we have celebrated that day: first, as Armistice Day to commemorate the signing of the armistice that brought the fighting to an end, and today as Veterans Day. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson set aside this day to honor the memory of those who served in the war.
Likewise, Britain and France celebrate Armistice Day, while Canada calls its holiday Remembrance Day.
Interestingly, in 1954 Congress decided to change the holiday's name to Veterans Day (June 1, 1954) - in an attempt to include veterans of World War II and Korea - and to observe the November date as one "dedicated to world peace."
And, in the late 1960s (June 28, 1968), Congress again tinkered with the celebration by passing a so-called Monday Holiday Law that moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October starting in 1971. But, this proved to be unpopular, and state after state moved the observance back to the traditional Nov. 11 date. So, Congress relented, and on Sept. 18, 1975 Veterans Day was returned to its rightful Nov. 11 date as of 1978 - after a seven-year-run (1971-1977) of late October holidays. On the 60th anniversary of the 1918 armistice, the holiday was again celebrated Nov. 11, 1978.
Note: when the 11th falls on a weekend, federal employees by law are given a holiday on another day. If it falls on a Saturday, they get Friday off; if it falls on a Sunday, they get Monday off.
Now, this national holiday includes the veterans of all America's foreign wars - from World War I to Iraq. It honors those who served and survived, plus those who did not or were wounded. Veterans Day should also remind us all of the horrible nature of war and its destructiveness - causing human and material damage that takes generations to fix (if ever).