POPPIES will proliferate on November 11, a symbol of Remembrance Day.
The blood-red flowers grew wild on the Western Front in the soil and mud churned by fighting in World War I.
Poppies have since become symbols of the useless slaughter of the Great War.
Paper poppies were originally sold in London, in 1921, as a way of raising money to support the families of fallen soldiers.
The tradition has continued in Allied countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain.
But the significance of the day on which they are worn, Remembrance Day, has grown over time.
November 11 was initially known as Armistice Day.
It was on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the Germans called for an “armistice”.
Armistice Day heralded the end of four years of The Great War, 1914-18, which claimed the lives of up to 13 million people worldwide and 61,512 Australians alone.
The name was re-evaluated at the end of World War II.
In Australia and Britain, “armistice” yielded to the word “remembrance”.
November 11 then became a day to reflect and honour the lives of those lost while fighting in all wars and conflicts.
Remembrance Day gained special attention in Australia in 1993, the 75th anniversary of the armistice.
That was when the remains of an unknown Australian soldier, exhumed from a military cemetery in France, were entombed in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory.
Remembrance Day ceremonies were conducted simultaneously in towns and cities all over the country and re-established the day as one of significance.
In 1997, governor-general William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring November 11 to be Remembrance Day.
He called for Australians to observe a minute’s silence at 11 am on November 11, to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in wars and conflicts.
(The practice of a minute’s silence dates to 1919, when King George V called for two minutes’ silence to mark the end of World War I.)
Wreaths of poppies are also laid at cenotaphs and war memorials on November 11.
The Last Post may be sounded at services in towns and cities across Australia.
Some people may place a sprig of rosemary in their lapel, as a replacement of the poppy.
Rosemary is especially significant for Australians and New Zealanders because it grew wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.
While Anzac Day has largely eclipsed Remembrance Day here in Australia, it’s important to observe the minute’s silence and reflect on those who have died in combat.
Story: Bunbury Mail
Written by: Daz