Edward George Honey
Edward George Honey (1885–1922) was an Australian soldier and journalist who is often credited with having conceived the idea of a moment of silence on Armistice Day (now known as Remembrance Day). Honey was educated at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, and served briefly during World War I with the British Army before receiving a medical discharge. He later worked in Melbourne as a journalist for The Argus newspaper.
The concept of Remembrance Day
On 8 May 1919 Honey, who was working in London at the time, wrote a letter to the London Evening News newspaper under the pen name Warren Foster suggesting an appropriate commemoration for the first anniversary of The Armistice Treaty which signalled the end of World War I, signed on 11 November 1918 at the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month." In the letter he said, "Five little minutes only. Five silent minutes of national remembrance. A very sacred intercession. Communion with the Glorious Dead who won us peace, and from the communion new strength, hope and faith in the morrow. Church services, too, if you will, but in the street, the home, the theatre, anywhere, indeed, where Englishmen and their women chance to be, surely in this five minutes of bitter-sweet silence there will be service enough." Honey had been prompted to make the suggestion as he had been angered by the way in which people had celebrated with dancing in the streets on the day of the Armistice, and believed a period of silence to be a far more appropriate gesture in memory of those who had died at war.
Honey's letter did not immediately create the Remembrance Day traditions, but on 27 October 1919, a suggestion from Sir Percy Fitzpatrick of a similar idea for a moment of silence was forwarded to George V, then King of the United Kingdom, who on 7 November 1919, proclaimed "that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities … so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead."
No record directly suggests Fitzpatrick was prompted by Honey's letter to propose a moment of silence, but Honey was recognised for being involved in the conception of the idea when he was invited by George V to a rehearsal of the moment of silence at Buckingham Palace. The custom of two-minutes of silence on the Armistice Day still occurs throughout much of the former British Empire and in some regions of the United States. See Remembrance Day details of individual nations' customs.
He died on 25 August 1922, and was buried at West Norwood Cemetery, in South London.
While it is still unclear whether Honey or Sir Percy is truly responsible for the concept of a moment of silence to remember the Armistice, the Australian government officially recognises Honey as having first raised the idea in the public domain.
- The West Australian, Origin of a Great Idea, 11 November 1931, p. 13.
- Carbone, Suzie (2003-11-12). "Victorians pay tribute to the fallen". The Age.
- Australian Women's Weekly, He originated silent tribute to the fallen, 12 November 1969, p. 67].
- Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs (2004). Remembrance Day - Silence. Retrieved 11 November 2005.
- Messer, John (26 August 1969). "So there was a Man from Snowy River, after all". The Age.