One hundred years ago on November 11, when the guns fell silent on the western front, battle-hardened Australian soldiers embraced one another out of a mixture of joy and sorrow.
In London, Paris and Sydney people danced in the streets. Businesses closed for the day. In the towns and villages of France and Belgium the Cathedral bells rang again after four years of deafening silence.
They were celebrating two things: peace and a costly victory.
Here in Australia mothers were weeping, some because their sons would finally be coming home, others because they never would. Peace, many said, was worth fighting for. They were right. But the cost paid for peace had been unimaginable four long years earlier.
More than 60,000 Australian lives lost.
Nearly 160,000 more wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. And what the mothers didn't know is that many who returned home would live shorter lives as a result of injury or their emotional experiences. Few made a complete adjustment back to the life they previously knew.
Sadly, the carnage of the First World War - the Great War - the war to end all wars provided insufficient evidence of the folly of global military conflict.
But thankfully, a second global conflict forced the embrace of an effective if not perfect, rules-based global order that hasn't prevented war, but has managed to geographically contain war. Let us pray the lessons and carnage of global conflict remain in the minds of current and future world leaders.
And let us pledge eternal thanks to all those who have served and continue to serve, including our medics, nurses and other combat support personnel. Greater love has no one than this; that someone lay down his life for his friends. I thank all those who joined the many who Commemorated Remembrance Day last Sunday. I thank also our Veterans and Sub Branch Members, our Councils and all those who help to make sure ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day are appropriately commemorated.
This year I attended the Muswellbrook Service at 11am and at 9pm, a service organised by Cessnock City RSL Sub Branch Pipes and Drums. Of course 9pm is 11am in France. It was a different and successful initiative, which received a $6,500 Armistice Centenary Grant. Like I'm sure all local services, they were both appropriately solemn occasions. Lest We Forget.