Poppies honour the fallen 100 years on

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Salute to the past: Mornington RSL members Allan Paynter, president Alan McDonald and Bill Julian, at the memorial to World War I hero Major General Harold Edward “Pompey” Elliott, in Elliott Square, Mornington. He unveiled the original honour roll in 1926. Picture: Yanni

THOUSANDS of Poppy Appeal volunteers all around Victoria – including from Mornington RSL sub-branch – will begin selling the iconic red poppies soon with all proceeds going to support needy current and former service men and women.

RSL Victoria is hoping to raise $3 million in this year’s appeal, with 2018 marking 100 years since the guns fell silent on the Western Front ending what became known as the Great War.

Poppies were among the first plants to bloom in the war-ravaged fields of France and Belgium and, since 1921, they have been used to remember those who fell during war.

As a wave of young veterans are finding themselves and their families in need of assistance, the RSL says it is as important this November, as it is every year, to donate to the Poppy Appeal,.

“The Poppy Appeal holds a special place in the hearts of Aussies and, as we wear our poppy this year, we thank the men and women who fought for Australia 100 years ago and today,” state president Dr Rob Webster said. “This year we commemorate the centenary of the Armistice to end World War I where Australians gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.

“It’s important to remember that the needs of our younger veterans are critical. Wearing a poppy is also how we can support them and thank them for their service.

“Through your support of the Poppy Appeal, and by wearing a poppy this November, not only are you acknowledging the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the Australia Defence Force, you are raising much needed funds to assist past and present service men and women and their dependents in times of need.”

Mornington RSL sub-branch president Alan McDonald said the Poppy Appeal was an opportunity for Victorians to come together to reflect and remember in the lead up to Remembrance Day, 11am, Sunday 11 November.

“This year, not only will we have an array of poppies to sell, but to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice we have a $30 Centenary of Armistice Poppy,” Mr McDonald said. “There will also be lovingly handmade poppies made by volunteers from around Victoria.

Poppies can be bought at RSL sub-branches, from volunteer collectors or at the shopping centre. Donate online at poppyappeal.com.au

Centenary of Armistice commemorations will be held at the Mornington Sub-Branch. “Because it is such a significant event – the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I – this year the service will be much bigger than usual,” Mr McDonald said.

“Students from all six secondary colleges from the Old Shire of Mornington will march to the cenotaph at Memorial Park, Barkly Street, carrying the names of the 121 shire men and women who volunteered at the time. Primary schools, sporting clubs and service clubs, as well as politicians and councillors, have all been invited to take part. Individuals also have the opportunity to lay a wreath on the day.”

The service will begin at 10.15am, Sunday 11 November. The sub-branch will open for a barbecue lunch and refreshments straight after the service.

“I hope many from the community will join with the sub-branch in this commemoration service for those who served all those years ago, but also to show our support and gratitude to all those who have served in conflict zones around the world,” Mr McDonald said.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 30 October 2018

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