Armistice Day (also sometimes referred to as Remembrance Day) marks the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended WW1 and commemorates the sacrifice of those who died serving New Zealand in this and all wars and armed conflict.
The Great War of 1914 to 1918 was one of the most devastating events in human history. New Zealand, with a population of 1.1 million in 1914, sent 100,000 men and women abroad. 16,700 died and over 40,000 were wounded – a higher per capita casualty rate than any other country involved.
The coming of peace on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 brought blessed relief for all involved.
On Armistice Day 1918, New Zealand had 58,129 troops in the field, while an additional 10,000 were under training in New Zealand. In total, the troops provided for foreign-service by New Zealand during the War represented 10% of its 1914 population between the ages of 20-45.
The signing of the Armistice is observed annually in New Zealand at 11am on 11 November (the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month). Two minutes silence is observed in memory of those New Zealanders who died while serving their country.
2016 is the 98th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice and will be marked with a special wreath laying service at the National War Memorial. Wreath laying ceremonies will also take place across New Zealand.
In addition to observing Armistice Day, Remembrance Sunday has become a universal time of commemoration when all men and women who died serving their country are commemorated in church services throughout New Zealand.
In New Zealand, Remembrance Sunday is observed on the second Sunday in November.
We also take this opportunity to remember our comrades in other parts of the world, especially our personnel currently serving in the various operational missions.
A national commemorative service, hosted by the New Zealand Defence Force, will be held in November in the Cathedral of St Paul in Wellington. The service includes a parade of flags from Navy, Army and Air Force, the RNZRSA, Merchant Navy flags and the reciting of the fourth stanza of Laurence Binyon's 'For the Fallen'
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
(Fourth stanza of Laurence Binyon's 'For the Fallen')
Army regulations allow the wearing of a small rose on uniform on Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday, in a similar manner to which poppies are worn on Anzac Day.
Two Minute Silence
The period of silence was first proposed by Melbourne journalist, Edward George Honey, in a letter published in the London Evening News on 8 May 1919. His letter came to the notice of King George V, and on 7 November 1919 the King issued a proclamation that called for a two minute silence:
“All locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated in reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”