62000 poppies for the lives of those 62000 Australians lost in World War 1
The Australian War Memorial has a very special commemoration happening at the moment.
To mark the 100th anniversary, 1918 to 2018, of the end of the First World War, a spectacular sea of handcrafted red poppies has sprouted. This is part of the Honour Their Spirit commemorations which will run from 5 October to Remembrance Day on 11 November 2018.
And I can assure you, the 62000 poppies were an amazing sight to see, not to mention moving!
The display represents the lives of 62000 Australians lost in the First World War. It is a beautiful heartfelt tribute.
The story behind the Poppies
What I liked most was the story behind the handmade red poppies. The 5000 Poppies project was started by two women, Lynne Berry and Margaret Knight, in 2013. It began as a small personal tribute to honour their fathers, with a plan to crochet 120 red poppies for Remembrance day in 2013. It grew into something spectacular with over 300000 poppies handcrafted by volunteers in the community throughout Australia, New Zealand and beyond. I’m proud to say that my mother was one of those who made some of the red poppies. Patterns were made available and collection points setup – it is an amazing project which resonated with thousands of people. The poppies were all made with love and thanks.
If you’re interested in any of the patterns here’s the link from the 5000 Poppies blog – Patterns
More than 300,000 stunning handcrafted poppies have been contributed from all over the world. Contributors include children as young as two, right through to people aged 102, and from many different backgrounds and cultures.
The poppies are all unique, in various shades of red, pink, orange – some with clever embellishments, others quite plain but they all mean something special. It was heartening to see lots of family groups walking around the display, discussing the meaning behind the poppies. The artistic way they were ‘planted’ was very clever and the musical arrangement playing lent a certain gravitas to the display too. All in all, it was a very professional installation but perfectly in keeping with the subject matter.
Honour Their Spirit
The poppies have been displayed all over the world and the Honour Their Spirit display was launched in Canberra on 5 October 2018. As a post on their blog says:
Some of our beautiful blooms are slightly worn by the patina of their travels through the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Fromelles, France for the Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles in 2016. They will fade, as poppies in the field do. But that will be part of the story too.
The installation is open in the grounds of the War Memorial in Canberra from 9 am and it’s a free event. Night time lighting allows visitors to access the display through to 10 pm each day. It’s well worth a visit!
Funds raised by the sales of some of the spare poppies will be donated to legacy Australia – a very worthwhile organisation. We bought a few poppy brooches and will wear them with pride. I also bought my baby granddaughter Emilia, a pack of poppy seeds so she can grow her own poppies in the garden.
Question: What do you think is the biggest security risk to the poppies?
Answer: Kangaroos! Only in Australia 🙂
We spoke with a helpful staff member at the display and got talking about security. The grounds are quite open and although they are patrolled throughout the night by professionals, the biggest security risk, funnily enough, are the nearby kangaroos. Up until the time the display was setup, the kangaroos had free rein eating the grass where the poppies have been ‘planted’. Now they come in for a snack and don’t know what’s going on, all these red poppies are everywhere!
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That make our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
By Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
I took lots of photos and this one was a bit of a surprise package, I’m not that sure what happened but I kind of like it. What do you think?
I am so pleased to have seen this wonderful display and to have learnt more from reading about it. I am in awe of the efforts of everyone involved. I also enjoyed reading my blogging friend Chris’s post on her visit to the poppies – A field of red poppies at the Australian War Memorial Canberra: a sea of love and thanks
Have you seen this display? What are you thoughts?
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