Official opening of 'Project Poppy 100'
Thank you, Commander Baston, for your warm welcome this morning. I too acknowledge our distinguished guests joining us today.
Kaye and I are very proud to be part of this important event.
This is a particularly poignant time for us to gather at the Queensland Maritime Museum, with the centenary of the end of World War I less than two weeks away.
The ‘War to End All Wars’ ground to a halt on 11 November 1918, its end hastened by the courage and military skill of Australian forces on the Western Front.
By then, the cost of the five-year conflict in lives and grief had become immense.
More than 60,000 Australians and almost 17,000 New Zealanders were part of that terrible toll, including sailors and airmen as well as soldiers.
Project Poppy 100 is a fitting and admirable way of commemorating those tens of thousands of Australians who lost their lives fighting on land, at sea and in the air.
It is equally fitting that the project’s dominant symbol is the poppy.
This blood-red flower is said to have been the first to spring from the mud of the Western Front when the guns were finally silenced, and was immortalised as a symbol of sacrifice in John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.
The poppy mural, the Remembrance Garden, the large 3D model of a poppy attached to the mast of HMAS Diamantina, herself a veteran of World War II, are touching and timely reminders of the sacrifice of Australians.
They will be visible to museum visitors, and to the thousands who cross the Goodwill Bridge and pass by on the river every day.
In this way, the museum is making its own characteristic contribution to Remembrance Day centenary commemorations, while also encouraging many more Queenslanders to remember and reflect on the courage and sacrifice of the ANZACs.
I thank all those involved in making the Poppy Project 100 possible – the board, staff, volunteers, and the contributing artists and craftsmen.
Theirs is a wonderful project of which the museum deserves to be very proud.
I also acknowledge with appreciation the role of the Queensland ANZAC Lasting Legacies Grant Scheme in making the project possible.
In sombre remembrance of those tens of thousands of Australians who gave their lives for their country in World War I, and as museum Patron, I now declare open the Queensland Maritime Museum’s Project Poppy 100.