Veterans mark Remembrance Day in Canberra

Rebecca Gredley
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REMEMBRANCE DAY CANBERRA

At the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, Australians remembered the nation's fallen

Australians should never let a day go by where they don't pause to reflect on the nation's fallen soldiers, the War Memorial director says.

Brendan Nelson's comments came on Remembrance Day, when a minute's silence was marked across the country to commemorate the nation's fallen service men and women.

"As we go about our daily lives there are young Australians who are placing themselves in harm's way for us - for our freedoms and all of the values we hold dear," he said after the service on Monday at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

"These extraordinary people make sacrifices for us, so that we can live our lives.

"No Australian should ever allow a day go by where we don't pause to think of what they do for us."

Dr Nelson finishes his seven-year stint at the helm of the War Memorial at the end of this year.

He singled out several heart-wrenching moments during his term, including seeing the song I Was Only 19 performed to Vietnam veterans at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier and having the mother of a man killed in Afghanistan cry on his shoulder after seeing the helicopter that had brought her son's body home.

While it was Dr Nelson's last Remembrance Day in the role, it was the first for Governor-General David Hurley.

The former army general and one-time chief of the defence force used his speech to honour Cecil Healy, the nation's only Olympic gold medallist to have died at war.

"Cecil Healy had no love of the military," he said of the swimmer.

"He chose to serve, fully understanding the risk contained in that decision. In that, he is an example to us today."

A minute's silence was marked after the Last Post was played to honour the Unknown Australian Soldier, whose tomb lies in the War Memorial.

In attendance in Canberra were Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith, Senate President Scott Ryan, Labor leader Anthony Albanese and his deputy Richard Marles.

The ceremony also featured Able Seaman Braidon Newman - a Wiradyuri man of Ngunnawal descent - playing the didgeridoo.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks when Germany signed a truce in France in 1918, ending the First World War, which was hoped to be "the war to end all wars".

While Australia had not been a nation for long, 416,000 people enlisted in that war and more than 60,000 never returned home.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering calling a royal commission into veteran suicides, with the heavy burden of war frankly acknowledged at the service.

"We acknowledge those who have returned and been left with mental suffering from wounds and injuries sustained in service," event master of ceremonies Scott Bevan said.

"Or from exposure to trauma, to danger or life-threatening conditions. This burden is heavy and for some it has proven too much."

Former commander and air force lawyer John Hyndes attended the Canberra service arm-in-arm with his wife Danielle.

"Those who can come to the War Memorial later on this evening and perhaps put a poppy somewhere, that would be a real worthwhile thing to do," Mr Hyndes told AAP.

The prime minister and his wife Jenny shook hands and chatted with veterans at Sydney's Remembrance Day service.

Originally called Armistice Day, the 100th Remembrance Day service was commemorated in 2018.