By Casey Neill
A sea of 10,000 red poppies will cover Emerald and Puffing Billy this Remembrance Day.
The Emerald RSL is encouraging people to knit, felt or crochet as many of the symbolic flowers as they can to mark 100 years since World War I came to an end.
The poppy became as a symbol of remembrance after Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae penned poem In Flanders Fields about the flowers growing on battle-scared fields in Ypres.
“At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2018 at Anzac Place, we can stand proudly as a community as Puffing Billy, covered in the poppies we have made, steams into Emerald,” project organiser Peter Maloney said.
As then-Emerald RSL president, he played a key role in creating the town’s Anzac Walk, launched in 2015 to honour the 32 men from Emerald who did not return from the WWI battlefields.
Then Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove arrived aboard Puffing Billy to officially open the tribute.
“This is the end of a journey in terms of the Centenary of Anzac,” Mr Maloney said.
“Three years later, here we are again doing the 100th anniversary of armistice.
“It’s like bookends.”
This year’s event will again pay tribute to the 32 men lost to the Great War, but will also highlight the 65 who served and returned.
“Our very own Puffing Billy was the train that took many of those men on the first part of their journey to the war all those years ago,” Mr Maloney said.
“As part of our Remembrance Day ceremony, Puffing Billy will carry their poppy-framed photos and honour roles back home to Anzac Place.”
He took the concept from a 5000-poppy craft project in London three years ago.
Sharon Davies has already made 75 and hopes to contribute 100 in total.
“I love making poppies and doing crochet,” she said.
Mr Maloney and team have reached out to local schools, organisations and groups, and have received poppies from across the state.
“Anyone who wants to can donate poppies, even if it’s only a couple – we don’t mind,” he said.
“Getting involved by making the Remembrance Day poppies is a wonderful way for children to learn about the sacrifices made by so many and for all in our community to take part in honouring their memory.”
The Emerald Men’s Shed is making large timber poppies to hang around the town from 1 November, to rally the community ahead of the big day.
The Emerald post office and RSL are accepting poppy donations.
Call Sue Farr on 0418 685 942 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.