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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Remembering lost Diggers 100 years on

On Sunday 11 November, Australia will mark a significant milestone in its military history, commemorating the centenary of the armistice that ended the fighting in the First World War (WWI) in 1918.

Centenary of Armistice ending WWI

From a population of around 4.5 million, some 416,000 Australians enlisted for service in the Great War, of whom more than 60,000 would never return.

In this final year of the Anzac Centenary (2015-2018), there are many opportunities in Canberra and the surrounding regions to pay tribute to those who served in the First World War and all who have served and died for Australia with honour in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Installations and exhibitions

A display of 62,000 hand-crafted poppies in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial enhanced with a lightscape and soundscape, this program will provide Australians with opportunities to reflect on the sacrifices made by our men and women during WWI.

A hauntingly beautiful and evocative tribute, each knitted and crocheted poppy represents an Australian life lost in the conflict.

Visitors can walk around the Sculpture Garden on the Memorial’s western grounds to view the spectacular display.

Complementing the handcrafted poppies installation is a moving musical program assembled by AWM artist in residence, Chris Latham.

A free event, night-time lighting allows visitors to access the display through to 10pm daily until 11 November.

The AWM will have bunches of the beautiful poppies available for purchase after 12 November.

The hand-crafted poppy display is the creation of the 5,000 Poppies Project under the stewardship of Lynn Berry. The installation was designed by award-winning architect Philip Johnson.

AWM Director, Dr Brendan Nelson, said the individual sacrifice of these men and women and those who loved them, and their devotion and duty to our country, made Australia what it is today.

“The 62,000 hand-crafted poppies that now sweep across the grounds of this sacred place are woven repositories of love and ennobled memory. Every single one of those men and women, who gave their lives for us, and their last moments to one another, is lovingly represented here.

“This place reminds us of the truths by which we live. Not the building, artefacts or relics displayed, but the stories of the men and women who stand behind them,” said Dr Nelson.

AWM is also running an Honour Their Spirit program with a host of events and programs across a five-week period in lead up to Remembrance Day, 11 November.

The 5,000 Poppies Project also has a second installation in Canberra at Australian Parliament House, as part of their series of tribute installations.

It’s another spectacular display of some 30,000 poppies in a series of 48 large panels carpeting the APH forecourt and ‘bloom’ from a wall in the Marble Foyer.

The majority of the poppies in the APH installation were the overrun those received for their AWM tribute.

Outside the Parliamentary Triangle, the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre will host Armistice and After – an exhibition to be opened by Member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh MP, on Remembrance Day at 11am.

The exhibition looks at the participation of the Hall district Diggers in the triumphs of 1918 and the euphoria that accompanied the end of hostilities.

It also examines the difficulties of repatriation and adjustment to civilian life and it records the veterans’ response after they and their children were asked to do it all again for WWII.

The AWM Poppy Display is available for viewing until 10pm on 11 November, while the APH display will be open to the public until 9 November.

The Remembrance Day National Ceremony will be held on 11 November 10.30am-12pm at the AWM; book free tickets via trybooking.com

For other events in Canberra and the surrounding regions, get in touch with your local RSL club or branch.

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