Today is Remembrance Day.
The day commemorates the Armistice that brought World War 1 to an end on November 11, 1918.
Accordingly, today marks the 95th anniversary of the Armistice.
At 11am Australians will observe a minute’s silence to remember those who have given their lives or fought. Whatever your views on war, today is about remembering individuals - the sons, husbands, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, friends who walked out their front door one day and never came home.
You may choose to wear a red poppy today.
Red poppies were amongst the first flowers to reappear in the devasted WW1 battlefields of France and Belgium. For the soldiers, the vivid red colour seemed to come from the spilt blood of their comrades.
Prior to the war, poppies in literature had symbolized sleep or oblivion. After the war, this quickly changed, with poppies becoming a symbol of sacrifice. This was aided by works such as In Flanders Fields, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s instantly classic poem, written after he witnessed the sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915.
According to the Australian War Memorial, a woman working for the American YMCA read the poem just before the Armistice. Moina Michael was "so moved by it that she wrote a poem in reply and decided to wear a red poppy always as a way of keeping faith, as McCrae had urged in his poem." Late in 1918 she spoke about the poem and her poppies at an international meeting of YMCA secretaries. Anna Guérin, the French YMCA secretary, expanded on the idea and began selling poppies to raise money for widows, orphans, and needy veterans and their families.
The poppy was quickly accepted throughout the allied nations as the flower of remembrance to be worn on Armistice Day. The first Armistice Day poppies were sold in Australia in 1921 by the Australian Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League (the forerunner to the RSL). One million silk poppies made in French orphanages were imported and sold for a shilling.
So for today, no park, no garden: just a simple bouqet of poppies, in remembrance.
All images © Amalie Wright.
Information on the history of the red poppy is courtesy the Australia War Memorial in Canberra.