Remembrance Day 2018: Canberra pauses to honour the sacrifice

They were remembered.

Remembered by the thousands who gathered at the Australian War Memorial, and by a city that paused on Sunday to honour their sacrifice to the nation.

At 11am, 100 years on from the signing of the treaty that ended World War I, Canberra fell silent in a moment's tribute to the Australian soldiers who have fought and died in overseas wars and peacekeeping missions.

On a clear and breathless spring morning, a crowd of about 12,000 attended the war memorial's Remembrance Day ceremony, filling the building's forecourt and spilling onto the footpaths along Anzac Parade.

Among those gathered were veterans who fought in World War II, Vietnam and Afghanistan. There were military personal, foreign dignitaries and about 280 school students from across Australia. Poppies were pinned to the shirts of children, many too young to comprehend the magnitude of the sacrifice made by the 112,000 Australians killed in overseas wars.

In his address, Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke of those sacrifices, paying tribute to the soldiers who "for our tomorrows, they gave their today".

More than 62,000 Australians were killed in World War I alone, devastating a young country of fewer than five million.

"It is easy from the vantage point of a century to lose sight of the sacrifices made in our name," Mr Morrison said.

"[It is] much harder to cross the span of generations and put ourselves in the boots of someone landing at Anzac Cove or charging into Beersheba or staring against the rattle of death on Flanders Fields.

"Those who fought in the Great War had the same and normal flaws and frailties of any other Australian of any other generation. Yet their selflessness at the darkest of times has set them apart for eternity in our nation’s consciousness."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers his Remembrance Day address  Photo: Jamila Toderas

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers his Remembrance Day address Photo: Jamila Toderas

After the Prime Minister's address, politicians, military personal, veterans and members of the diplomatic corps laid floral wreaths on the memorial's steps.

Musicians John Schumann and Lee Kernaghan performed an adaptation of Waltzing Matilda, as school children placed a commemorative cross at the Stone of Remembrance.

Each student shook Mr Morrison's hand as they exited the ceremony, having played a small but significant part in marking the centenary of the end of World War I.

During the proceedings, the group Medical Association for Prevention of War staged a small vigil, holding a sign which read "Honour Them - Promote Peace".

The small group stood on Fairbairn Avenue, having been denied permission by the National Capital Authority to gather on Anzac Parade during the Remembrance Day event.

Chief of Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, The Chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial Mr Kerry Stokes, and representing the Returned and Services League of Australia Mr John King lay a wreath at the Remembrance Day ceremony Photo: Jamila Toderas

Chief of Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, The Chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial Mr Kerry Stokes, and representing the Returned and Services League of Australia Mr John King lay a wreath at the Remembrance Day ceremony Photo: Jamila Toderas

Earlier on Sunday, large crowds streamed into the memorial grounds; some vying to secure the best vantage points for the ceremony, others to allow time to wander the sea of 62,000 hand-crafted woollen poppies installed last month as part of the centenary celebrations.

On Saturday night, crowds gathered as a beam of light was projected from the memorial's parapet to Parliament House.

The beam - which changed in colour from white to prink to crimson red - was intended to symbolise the links between the decisions made by politicians at Parliament House and the consequences of war.