Things you may not have known about why we celebrate Remembrance Day

Recently it was drawn to my attention just how much is not known about our history and that of the Anzacs. With the invention of google still so much has been lost and needs to be remembered. So, bearing in mind Sunday is 11 November is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day or better known as Remembrance Day I thought it was poignant to discuss our Anzacs and what this day means also highlighting a small fundraising exercise for a documentary to be produced.

Armistice Day marks the day that World War One ended in 1918 and at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month and it is when a 2 minutes silence is held to remember those who have died in war. The definition of Armistice is an agreement for a temporary stop to a war and is also referred to as a treaty. It is also known as the Armistice of Compiègne which is where the signing of the ceasefire between the Allies and Germany took place and it came into force at 11am.

A way to mark Armistice Day is with a remembrance poppy and this has been used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war, and represents a common or field poppy, Papaver rhoeas. In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in the battle-scarred fields to write the now famous poem call “In Flanders Fields”. After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance.

The red poppy has long had an association with Remembrance Day and it is a symbol of sleep, peace and death. Sleep because the opium extracted from them is a sedative and death because of the common blood-red colour of the red poppy in particular. The red poppies were the first to flower in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium in the First World War. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead.

The white poppy was introduced in 1933 by Britain’s Co-operative Women’s Guild and is worn as a remembrance for all victims and a symbol of commitment to peace.

The purple poppy is to commemorate animal victims of war. Animal Aid in Britain issued a purple poppy to be worn alongside the traditional red one, as a reminder that both humans and animals have been victims of war.

The black poppy is a symbol which commemorates all those who have died, and are still dying, due to war and its legacy. It remembers dead soldiers, dead civilians, dead conscientious objectors. It remembers those who have fallen victim to invasion, occupation, gender-based violence, starvation and poverty. This was a symbol first seen in Glasgow in 2014 where counter-militarism activists pasted 16,000 black poppies to appeal to the public to consider what Remembrance Sunday means.

As recent as July this year the yellow poppy has emerged with a craft group in New South Wales knitting them to be given to a relative of an athlete as a memento of the 2018 Invictus Games held in Sydney in October.

This year marking the Armistice Centenary a public art project has been carried out by the Queensland Government and the installation has travelled around the state and is now at River Quay, Southbank for viewing up until Sunday 11 November. This impressive art installation is over 3m high and 16m long and is a reminder of the importance to remember the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women. It contains thousands of handmade paper poppies to honour the 57,705 Queenslanders who enlisted in the First World War.

I also want to highlight a small fundraising exercise to fund a documentary called “A War Veteran’s Final Interview” with the last surviving raid member of World War 2 Operation Jaywick. Abel Seaman Moss Berryman was just 18 years old (he is now in his 90s) when he and 13 other men from the Allied Forces Z Special Unit undertook one of Australia’s most daring and successful wartime missions. They spent 4 months at sea aboard the MV Krait, a reclaimed Japanese shipping vessel and travelled from Exmouth, Western Australia to Singapore Harbour. They dressed as local Malay fishermen and in October 1943 they managed to sink or destroy 7 Japanese shipping vessels. Every member of the operation made it back alive and hold the record for the longest amount of time spent undetected in enemy territory. This piece of Australian history was hidden for decades and now there is an opportunity to be taken on a journey, through history with the firsthand account from Moss Berryman. https://www.awm.gov.au/…/moss-berryman-and-operation-jaywick. There is currently a GoFundMe page for this documentary and they are hoping to raise $15,000. Currently it stands at just over $12,000. If you wish to support this go to:- https://www.gofundme.com/a-war-veterans-final-interview.

So, on Sunday don’t forget our Anzacs, whether you choose to wear a poppy, mark two minutes silence or perhaps spare some dollars for the GoFundMe documentary.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
LEST WE FORGET.

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