Speech give by His Excellency, Grand Chief Sir Bob Bofeng Dadae, GCL, GCMG, KSt.J Governor General of Papua New Guinea on the occasion of the Armistice Remembrance Day service on Wednesday 11th November 2020 at the Ela beach memorial park:
Originally called Armistice Day, this day commemorated the end of the hostilities for the Great War (World War 1), the signing of the armistice, which occurred on 11th November 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 102 years ago. Armistice Day was observed by the Allies as a way of remembering those who died, especially soldiers with ‘no known grave’.
On the first anniversary of the armistice, in 1919, one minute’s silence was instituted as part of the main commemorative ceremony.
On the second anniversary of the armistice, 11 November 1920, the commemoration was given added significance when it became a funeral, with the return of the remains of an Unknown Soldier from the battlefields of the Western Front. Unknown soldiers were interred with full military honours in Westminster Abbey in London, at the Arc de Triompe in Paris. The entombment in London attracted over one million people within a week to pay their respects at the Unknown Soldier’s tomb. Most other allied nations adopted the tradition of entombing unknown soldiers over the following decades.
The Flanders poppy became accepted throughout the allied nations as the flower of remembrance to be worn on Armistice Day. The red poppies were among the first plants that spouted from the devastation of the battlefields of northern France and Belgium.
‘Soldiers’ folklore had it that the poppies were vivid red from having been nurtured in ground drenched with the blood of their comrades.
After the end of World War II in 1945, the British government changed the name to Remembrance Day as an appropriated title for a day which would commemorate all war dead.
Lest We Forget.
Grand Chief Sir Bob Bofeng Dadae, GCL, GCMG, KStJ
Governor General of Papua New Guinea