By Casey Neill
This Sunday 11 November marks 100 years since World War I ended.
The Emerald RSL will hold its Remembrance Day service at Anzac Place for the first time, adjacent to the sub-branch.
“We have covered Emerald in 20,000 poppies as a sign to our residents that they respectfully remember the significance of the poppy in relation to those who gave their lives in WWI,” project organiser Peter Maloney said.
“We have also covered Puffing Billy in poppies as our train was involved in transporting our young men to and from war.
“We must never forget.”
The RSL itself will be covered in crocheted, knitting and sewed poppies, too, as a sign of respect for all its members who served in all conflicts for Australia.
The service will start at 10am with the Emerald Secondary College band welcoming visitors and La Trobe MP Jason Wood opening the service.
A poppy-adorned Puffing Billy will then make a nostalgic return to Emerald, symbolically carrying the diggers who returned to their homes in the area.
“In all we have established that there were at least 66 young men who returned home and many of their descendants will be in attendance on the day,” project organiser Peter Maloney said.
Local scouts and school children will carry photos of the 32 men who lost their lives to a large display stand on Anzac Place.
Local descendants, Graeme Legge and June Styling, will carry honour boards of the 66 men who returned. “After that, 32 pigeons will then be released to spiritually connect with our men,” Mr Maloney said.
“Prior to the minute’s silence, the sounds of warfare will remind those in attendance of the realities of war.
“After the Last Post there will be a flyover of two Trojan aircraft, who will dip their wings as a sign of respect.”
A wreath-laying will take place, followed by keynote speakers Graeme Legge and Matt Cocks.
Mark Fenby will sing I Was Only 19 and the community will be asked to lay poppies on the cenotaph.
Jules Vines and Carol McCoy will end the service with the National Anthem.
“Guests will be invited to inspect Puffing Billy and take a poppy from the grounds as a memento of the occasion,” Mr Maloney said.