Our city re­joices as Great War ends

Geelong Advertiser - - YOUR SAY -

GEE­LONG knows how to mark an oc­ca­sion and have a whole-of-city cel­e­bra­tion.

Many still talk about the scenes when the Cats broke their decades­long pre­mier­ship drought in 2007.

But this ten­dency hasn’t just ex­pressed it­self in the mod­ern era.

As we re­port from our files to­day, a cen­tury ago to­mor­row the bells and chimes rang out in our city for peace as Gee­long men and women thronged to­gether to mark the end of the Great War.

And what a bit­ter­sweet oc­ca­sion it must have been. So many young Aus­tralian men never re­turned from Turkey, the Mid­dle East and the Western Front. Re­gional cen­tres like ours, full of wide-eyed farm boys seek­ing ad­ven­ture, paid over the odds in blood­shed.

It is those poor mar­tyrs for empire that the Binyon poem re­mem­bers as those who, un­like the rest of us, shall not grow old, who will not be wea­ried by age nor con­demned by the years.

On Tues­day, November 12, 1918, this news­pa­per marked the oc­ca­sion: “The war is ended; the Kais­ers of Ger­many and Aus­tria have ceased to reign.”

The ori­gins and pur­pose of World War I re­main ob­scure and en­tan­gled, even from the van­tage point of ret­ro­spect — much more so than hu­man­ity’s ex­is­ten­tial war with the Nazis that fol­lowed three short decades later.

But even as Aus­tralians ar­gued among our­selves through the con­scrip­tion de­bate over our re­la­tion­ship with Eng­land, we took steps to­ward in­de­pen­dence through our su­pe­ri­or­ity on the bat­tle­field.

Fol­low­ing a litany of in­com­pe­tent, butcher­ing, im­pe­ri­ous English gen­er­als, it was Vic­to­rian John Monash — a leader who cared for his men — who with Aus­tralian troops pushed the Ger­mans out of France and ended the war.

Re­gard­less of the merit of our in­volve­ment in the mass blood­shed, we ex­erted and found our iden­tity as a fledg­ling na­tion on the world stage of that war.

And when a treaty was made and no more boys had to be sent away to die we cel­e­brated the com­ing of peace as only we know how.

Ar­mistice cel­e­bra­tions in Lt Malop St.

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