Charlie Lynn’s Dirty Dozen: The “RSL Anzac Art Awards” Speech

Full text of Speech by The Hon. Charlie Lynn MLC, on “RSL Anzac Art Awards”, Adjournment Debate, NSW, Parliamentary Debates Legislative Council, 16 August 2012, page 13921, and annotated as applicable

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN (Parliamentary Secretary) [3.56 p.m.]: The New South Wales RSL Anzac Art Awards were launched last month by Premier Barry O’Farrell at the Department of Education’s Bridge Street headquarters in Sydney. The awards, which are open to all New South Wales school students from years 1 to12, celebrate Anzac values, such as respect and remembrance, in a visual context.

The NSW RSL Anzac Art Awards were launched last month by Premier Barry O’Farrell at the department’s Bridge Street headquarters in Sydney.

Open to all NSW school students from Years 1-12, the long-running art award celebrates Anzac values, such as respect and remembrance, in a visual context.

(Department of Education and Communities Media Release, dated 13 August 2012)

Students are being asked to paint a picture of what the Anzac spirit means. Premier O’Farrell said the web-based project had helped foster modern interpretations through the eyes of this generation of young Australians. The Premier said, “The RSL Art Awards Council has carefully crafted this new scheme to encourage all young people to think about what previous generations of soldiers, sailors and airmen have done to serve and defend this great country of ours.”

Mr O’Farrell said the web-based project had helped foster modern interpretations through the eyes of this generation of young Australians.

“The RSL Art Awards Council has carefully crafted this new scheme to encourage all young people to think about what previous generations of soldiers, sailors and air men have done to serve and defend this great country of ours,” he said.

(Department of Education and Communities Media Release, dated 13 August 2012)

This year’s theme, “The Poppy”, relates to the Flanders poppy, which has long been a part of Remembrance Day and marks the Armistice of 11 November 1918. It is increasingly being used as part of Anzac Day observances. During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. The sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the immortal poem In Flanders Fields:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The Flanders poppy has long been a part of Remembrance Day, the ritual that marks the Armistice of 11 November 1918, and is also increasingly being used as part of ANZAC Day observances. During the First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. The sight of poppies on the battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the poem In Flanders fields (see The recitation)

(“Red Poppies”, article in Australian War Memorial section on Commemorations and Customs)

In English literature of the nineteenth century poppies had symbolised sleep or a state of oblivion; in the literature of the First World War a new, more powerful symbolism was attached to the poppy—the sacrifice of shed blood. Moina Michael, who worked for the United States YMCA, read McCrae’s poem just before the Armistice. She was so moved by it that she wrote a poem in reply and decided to wear a red poppy always as a way of keeping faith, as McCrae had urged in his poem. At a meeting of YMCA secretaries from other countries, held in November 1918, she talked about the poem and her poppies. Anna Guerin, the French YMCA secretary, took the idea further by selling poppies to raise money for widows, orphans and needy veterans and their families.

In English literature of the nineteenth century, poppies had symbolised sleep or a state of oblivion; in the literature of the First World War a new, more powerful symbolism was attached to the poppy – the sacrifice of shed blood.

Moina Michael, who worked for the American YMCA, read McCrae’s poem just before the Armstice. She was so moved by it that she wrote a poem in reply and decided to wear a red poppy always as a way of keeping faith, as McCrae had urged in his poem. At a meeting of YMCA secretaries from other countries, held in November 1918, she talked about the poem and her poppies. Anna Guérin, the French YMCA secretary, took the idea further by selling poppies to raise money for widows, orphans, and needy veterans and their families.

(“Red Poppies”, article in Australian War Memorial section on Commemorations and Customs)

The poppy soon became widely accepted throughout the allied nations as the flower of remembrance to be worn on Armistice Day. The Australian Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League—the forerunner to the RSL—first sold poppies for Armistice Day in 1921. For this drive, the league imported one million silk poppies, made in French orphanages. Each poppy was sold for a shilling: five pence was donated to a charity for French children, sixpence went to the league’s own welfare work, and one penny went to the league’s national coffers. Today the RSL and Legacy continue to sell poppies on Remembrance Days to raise funds for their welfare work.

The poppy soon became widely accepted throughout the allied nations as the flower of remembrance to be worn on Armistice Day. The Australian Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League (the forerunner to the RSL) first sold poppies for Armistice Day in 1921. For this drive, the league imported one million silk poppies, made in French orphanages. Each poppy was sold for a shilling: five pence was donated to a charity for French children, six pence went to the League’s own welfare work, and one penny went to the League’s national coffers. Today the RSL continues to sell poppies for Remembrance Day to raise funds for its welfare work.

(“Red Poppies”, article in Australian War Memorial section on Commemorations and Customs)

The Roll of Honour is dotted with red poppies.

Photo caption: The Roll of Honour dotted with red poppies.

(“Red Poppies”, article in Australian War Memorial section on Commemorations and Customs)

The poppy has also become very popular in wreaths used on Anzac Day. An early instance took place in Palestine, where poppies grow abundantly in the spring.

At the Dawn Service in 1940 each soldier dropped a poppy as he filed past the Stone of Remembrance. A senior Australian officer also laid a wreath of poppies picked from the slopes of Mt Scopus.

The poppy has also become very popular in wreaths used on ANZAC Day. An early instance took place in Palestine, where poppies grow abundantly in the spring. At the Dawn Service in 1940 each soldier dropped a poppy as he filed past the Stone of Remembrance. A senior Australian officer also a laid a wreath of poppies picked from the slopes of Mt Scopus.

(“Red Poppies”, article in Australian War Memorial section on Commemorations and Customs)

Poppies adorn the panels of the memorial’s Roll of Honour, placed beside names as a small personal tribute to the memory of a particular person, or to any of the thousands of individuals commemorated there.

Poppies adorn the panels of the Memorial’s Roll of Honour, placed beside names as a small personal tribute to the memory of a particular person, or to any of the thousands of individuals commemorated there.

(“Red Poppies”, article in Australian War Memorial section on Commemorations and Customs)

Today I would like to acknowledge the great work of the New South Wales Division of the RSL, its State President, Mr Don Rowe, OAM, its Communications Manager, Mr Mark Lee, and its members for their efforts in ensuring the legacy of our service men and women and the sacrifices they made are never forgotten. I would also like to congratulate the 2011 winner, Gabriele Picard, from Northern Beaches Secondary College for her insightful artwork in capturing the essence of Remembrance Day.

Competitions such as these are a way of engaging our younger generations to ensure the memories of our fallen soldiers and their legacies live on. I would encourage each and every member to spread the word of this competition to their schools and communities. Details of the competition, which closes on 2 November, can be found on rslanzacartawards.com. I also take this opportunity to thank Gilbert Lee, who is our work experience student for the week. Gilbert is sitting in the President’s gallery today. Gilbert is a fantastic young man with a bright future; he attends Baulkham Hills High School, which is one of our best selective schools in New South Wales. I understand that Gilbert is one of the school’s most outstanding students.

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