Only birds could be heard chirping in the distance as Wollondilly residents observed a minute’s silence in honour of Australia’s fallen soldiers this morning.
Hundreds of people gathered at a solemn ceremony in Picton Memorial Park on Sunday to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
Before the official service began, there was a special unveiling of a new cenotaph at the park to honour Armistice Day.
Attendees gasped and applauded when Picton Anzac Day Committee chairman Ray Law, well-known local Elaine Barnes and her son Kevin reveal the monument.
The $35,000 cenotaph, which includes portraits of Australian soldiers, was commissioned by the Picton Anzac Day Committee.
“This contribution is not just for the memorial park, but the whole of Wollondilly,” Mr Law said.
The service began with a lone bugler sounding The Last Post and Reveille, instructing the crowd to observe a minute’s silence.
Mr Law then addressed the crowd and said Australians should never forget the sacrifices made by World War I soldiers to fight for our freedom today.
“I look around me and I see hundreds of people gathered together in a public space without fear of persecution or reprisal,” he said.
“I see people reveling in the freedom and the standard of living, and the culture in which we live.
“It should never be forgotten that all of that has come at a cost. Today we remember so many. Over Australia’s history, we’ve had more than 100,000 of our finest and youngest who have paid the supreme sacrifice on our behalf.
“Countless more have been lost after that [war], some because of their wounds or the effects of their service, even more tragically those who have ended their own lives because of the suffering they have endured when they returned home.”
Mr Law said it was often easy to take for granted “what we have always known and hold dear in this country”.
“Our rights to gather in a park whenever we see fit, our rights to self determination in whether or not we joined the armed forced, our rights to determine a career, our right to an education,” he said.
“Because they are things we have been born with and are part of our every day life, I think we often forget that cost of what that has been.”
Picton High School student Julie Anderson then led attendees in The Recessional hymn before everyone joined together to sing the national anthem.
The service concluded with Picton World War II veteran Colin Miller planted a lone pine seedling in the memorial park in honour of the Battle of Lone Pine during World War I.
Lest We Forget.