A Moment’s Silence

AVCAT Scholar Madelyne Reflects on Remembrance Day

By Madelyne Knape

Remembrance Day, the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, a day where peace finally fell over the battlefield after years of bloodshed; a day first observed over a hundred years ago. And now we remember all those who were lost, unable to come back home.

My mother calls us once we’re dressed for school, lining us up next to each other in a neat little line. Scattered on the bench are a selection of pins, bright red poppies with brass script curling underneath them; Lest We Forget. She bends down to help us fasten them into place, the sharp edge of the pin pressed through a jumper or the lapel of a blazer.

Piling into the car is the same battle as always but it’s an easy ride to school, we disperse into the yard, disappearing in separate directions. In the morning students are corralled to an assembly where we sit in rows upon rows, struggling not to fidget in place. The man at the podium is speaking but it’s too easy for me to lose track of what he’s saying.

A minute of silence, a hush falls over the students. The quiet swells up, blanketing the room. I do my best to be still. I’m not sure when I first understood what the day meant, but there is a sense of grief in the air that is hard to miss, and harder still to define.

I try to imagine what it was like, for all the men who fought and fell for our country, and for us. For all the men who fell on a beach, who struggled through the heat, oceans away from their homes. The families left behind, afraid and grieving for their fathers, sons and brothers. The ripples of that grief through generations as the next ones are called out again, and again, to trample and churn the fields.

The red of my pin catches the eye, always blooming. It’s almost impossible to reconcile, sitting in a room filled with children who have never had to see or live through war. Listening to the quiet year after year, I can’t help but think of the people closest to me. My great-grandfather, who lived a long happy life and how lucky he was. My father who wanted to follow in his footsteps, and served until it was time to stay home.

Today Remembrance Day is a little less severe, we light a candle every year to honour those before us and let it burn long into the night; a moments silence doesn’t seem enough.

Lest we forget.

Madelyne was awarded the Carry On Victoria Scholarship in 2020

You might also enjoy these stories ...

Thomas Hooper on NAIDOC Week

As a young Aboriginal man, NAIDOC Week has a lot of meaning for both me personally and for my family.  It means coming together with those close to me and...

A Flying Start

By Dr Anthony Rengel Aviation has always been in my blood. My father was an Air Force veteran, and like my father, I have made flying a part of my...

Melinda Thomas – AVCAT Scholar

My father served as an engineer in the Australian Army for over a decade, and sadly later lost his life due to an illness developed over the course of his...
Scroll to Top