'War Is Always A Failure': Australia Commemorates 100 Years Since WWI Armistice

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On this day 100 years ago, silence fell over the battlefields of World War One as an Armistice agreement brought to an end four years of continuous battle.

Politicians, veterans and their families have gathered in Canberra to mark the centenary, paying their respects to those who servicemen and women who "feared greatly but acted nonetheless".

"And it is this that embodies our highest aspirations as a nation and its people," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in his commemorative address.

"To live for others even when to do so is unimaginably hard and the cost extreme."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison takes the salute from the guard of honour during Remembrance Day at the Australian War Memorial. Image: AAP

On November 11, the nation pays their respects to more than 330,000 Australian fallen soldiers and veterans who fought in the 'Great War' with a one minute's silence.

This year, thousands gathered at the Australian War Memorial for the nation's key commemoration marking 100 years since the guns fell silent.

"As we commemorate the centenary of the Armistice and cast our minds back over the years, we know too well the deep scars of war and long to prevent them from touching an Australian soul," Morrison said.

"Our human predisposition, our Australian is one of peace. It's to be in accord with family, friends, neighbour, community, to love, to live -- that's why war is always a failure of our humanity."

"Yet we know there are times when even the most peaceful of men and women are called upon to defend the beliefs they live by."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten read a selection of epitaphs of some of those 102,000 Australians who died in conflict.

"He gave his life his all, he like a soldier fell, our dear daddy," read that of Company Sergeant Major W Love who died on December 5, 1916, aged 22.

Earlier, he said the day was a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made to defend Australia and bring peace.

"We must do better for our veterans and their families," he said in a statement.

"Our veterans have done their duty, now we must do ours."

Morrison, joined by former Prime Minister Paul Keating and Australian War Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson, lay a wreath on the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier  --  the remains of an unknown Australian WW1 soldier that were ceremoniously entombed in the Memorial's Hall of Memory.

The tribute commemorated more than 75,000 wooden crosses inscribed with messages from students that have been placed on Australian graves in 39 countries.

Earlier, Wing Commander Jonathan Lilley, a member of the Worimi people of Williamtown, played the didgeridoo in front of the Stone of Remembrance, as the first WWI footage showed soldiers carrying their hand-operated wooden cameras across the shores of Gallipolli.

Nation Commemorates

Special centenary events have been taking place around the War Memorial in the last week, including the display of 62,000 handcrafted red poppies on the memorial grounds to commemorate the number of Australian lives lost in the war.

Personal messages are seen amongst the poppies on the Roll of Honour during Remembrance Day at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Image: AAP
Source: Australian War Memorial

Australian War Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson described the poppies exhibit as being woven repositories of love and ennobled memory.

"Every single one of those men and women, who gave their lives for us, and their last moments to one another, is lovingly represented here," he said. 

“This place reminds us of the truths by which we live. Not the building, artifacts, or relics displayed, but the stories of the men and women who stand behind them.”

Sunday is the last day for members of the public to see the poppies display, the Australian War Memorial confirmed to 10 daily.

The names of those who gave their lives in the war have also been projected onto the facade of the Hall of Memory from sunset to sunrise every night since August.

Soldiers stand inside the Hall of Memory which contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Image: Getty
The History of Remembrance Day

The end of the First World War is globally recognised as having occurred when guns ceased fire on November 11th 1918.

Australian commemorative services recognise this through the tradition of holding a one minute's silence at 11am every year on Remembrance Day, which was officially proclaimed in 1997 by then Governor-General Sir William Deane.

It followed decades of services across the country, beginning in 1919 where a two minute silence was observed, on what was then known as Armistice Day -- although this was formally changed to Remembrance Day following the end of World War Two.

In 1993 on the 75th anniversary of the armistice, the remains of an unknown Australian WW1 soldier were exhumed from a military cemetery in France and were ceremoniously entombed in the Memorial's Hall of Memory.

The tomb of the unknown soldier remains one of the most visited parts of the Australian War Memorial today.