November 11 is an important date in Australian history.
To my knowledge, three events have occurred on this date which are of significance to the Australian national identity.
The first is Armistice Day, shared with many countries. At 11 O'clock on the eleventh of the eleventh, nineteen hundred and eighteen, The Great War officially ended with the signing of the armistice. This war was significant because it not only showed Australians to be among the finest soldiers in the world, through the first breach of the Hindenburg Line and the withdrawal of the ANZACs from Gallipoli without casualties, for instance, but it also showed the peaceful nature of the Australian people, in that at the time of this war, the peace movement in Australia was at least as large, per capita, as it was during the Vietnam conflict. It is common across Australia, as it is in other parts of the world, to observe a minutes silence at eleven o'clock on the eleventh of November to remember the dead. We also have the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra which are designed to let the suns rays line up on mosaics at eleven o'clock, although they were designed before the advent of daylight saving and, as November is late Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the designs now align the rays of light at twelve.
If we go back thirty-eight years from Armistice Day, we see the death by hanging of a famous Australian icon, Edward 'Ned' Kelly, the bushranger. Ned Kelly is considered by some a villain and others a hero, depending on which community you are in. In some areas the argument is still quite heated, well over a hundred years after his death. There are even stories that, while the authorities painted him as a common criminal, he was in fact politically motivated and was attempting a revolution to form an Irish Colony in South Eastern Australia. Whether or not this is the case, records show him to be an intelligent man who was gentle and polite to those he robbed and whose first brush with the law arose from a trooper sexually harassing his sister.
The third major event I know about this date occurred ninety-five years later in nineteen seventy five. Australia's then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, was sacked by the Governor General, for refusing to call a general election when the senate blocked supply, triggering a double disillusion. While some right wing Australians still maintain that this was entirely an Australian political matter, we now know that a lot of politically sensitive information that was used in secret by the then opposition against the government at the time was gathered by the CIA, including recordings of private conversations in the Prime Ministers Office. It appears that the Cold War United States administration was unhappy with an Australian Prime Minister opening dialogue and trade with, and supplying aid to Communist China and various other 'rogue states' that they were trying to demonise at the time.
Of far less significance, it is also my birthday. Mum says she tried to cross her legs until eleven o'clock.
I was born at a bit after six in the morning.