Story by Lourice Angie
Attention all knitters’! The Warwick Sesquicentennial Committee along with the Collegiate Church of St. Mary in Warwick, England is seeking help from community members to join the ‘Warwick Poppies 2018’ project.
In recent weeks, George Arnott of the Village of Warwick Sesquicentennial Committee, received a request from Christine Cross former Mayoress of Warwick, England to join in a global project commemorating the 100th year of the end of World War One. The international campaign is designed for communities and people to come together and create knitted poppies for every soldier that made the ultimate sacrifice during the war.
Without hesitation, the Sesquicentennial Committee teamed with other local organizations and is now a proud sponsor of “Knitting Our Warwicks Together.” St. Mary’s Church has a rich and proud history of involvement in military through their famous Royal Warwickshire Regimental chapel and their role in civic life.
A total of 346 people from Warwick, NY served in WWI, and of that number seven died. More than 11,600 people made the ultimate sacrifice and were killed in the small town of Warwickshire, England alone.
The goal of the ‘Knitting Our Warwicks Together’ poppy project is to create locally handmade poppies that will be sent to the St. Mary’s Royal Regimental Chapel. The poppies will be unveiled in a flowing display inside and around the Church in October of 2018 and run until the month of December.
As a fitting community tribute to the sacrifices made during the ‘Great War,’ they are anticipating to create over 11,000 beautifully knitted red poppies (one for each life lost in Warwickshire, England). The commemorative display will be spectacular, moving, highly topical, and enhance the praise and worship of the Centennial Anniversary of the end of WWI. The Town of Warwick will be identified world-wide on a map of contributors that includes Australia and Canada.
Library Will Serve as a Drop Off Location
Women have always played a role with the military during times of war, though not always in a way that may be recognized as traditional military. During WWI thousands of women in the U.S formed and joined organizations that worked to bring relief to war torn countries in Europe. Some women took on the role of men and worked jobs on the home front, while others worked to provide essential services during these hard times like sewing bandages, socks and other items for the soldiers at war. They also handled the cooking, laundry, nursing, etc.
Women have always contributed to make a difference in society and WWI had a huge impact on the way women are today. More women began working at jobs outside of the home. Rosemary Cooper, Director of the Albert Wisner Public Library and local artist Patricia Foxx, who organized the “Knitting Warwick Together” tree project over the summer, have offered help in facilitating the project and the library will serve as a knit and drop off location.
Generous Donation from the Warwick Rotary
The Warwick Valley Rotary generously donated $300 for the red yarn needed to make the poppies. Knitting packets, instructions and poppy patterns (for knitting, crocheting or felting) are all available at the Library. The Warwick Valley VFW Post 4662 Ladies Auxiliary donated a large glass vase to collect the poppies in, and President Rachel Rivera created a booklet filled with pictures and valuable information that is also displayed at the Library.
The campaign hopes to reach community members of all ages who enjoy knitting, crocheting or felting. Experienced knitters, schoolchildren and people with family who has served or actively serving in the military are all encouraged to participate.
“The whole focus of this is to empower people in Warwick to make poppies. There are many knitters out there. You can make your poppy however you want to, and we’ll just help you do it,” said Rosemary Cooper. “In the winter, we will have knitters once a week at the Library to help encourage people will the project.”
“Next year is the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI that’s why all of this is going on. Christine Cross contacted me and asked would I start this program because they were doing it. I personally don’t know anything about knitting. Thank God Rosemary is on board. This will be the hub of everything with ‘Knitting Our Warwicks Together’,” said George Arnott.
The History of the Poppy During World War One
WWI, also referred to as the First World War, the Great War, the War to End All Wars or the Modern War, was a global battle that would change the nation and the world forever. It began in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and his pregnant wife, Sophie, by the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo Bosnia on June 28, 1914.
This began a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia and entangled international alliances formed throughout the previous decades were invoked. Within a few weeks, the major powers were at war, and the fall out soon spread around the world. Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (central powers) fought against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan and the U.S. (allied powers).
WWI saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction. After a long and painful four years, at the end of the War in 1918 more than 16 million people died as a result of the war. The total number of civilian and military casualties is estimated at about 37 million. The war killed almost seven million civilians and 10 million military personnel.
What had once been beautiful countryside, was now blasted, bombed and fought over again and again. The landscape quickly turned to fields of mud where little or nothing could grow. However, bright red Flanders poppies (papaver rhoeas) were delicate but resilient flowers that grew in thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos and destruction.
An American academic woman named Moina Michael was inspired to make and sell red silk poppies, which were brought to England by a French woman named Anna Guerin. The Royal British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered nine million poppies, and sold them on Nov. 11 of that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately and raised a considerable amount of money that was used to help WWI veterans with employment and housing.
For additional information or instructions on how to make a poppy visit the Albert Wisner Public Library, located at 1 McFarland Dr. in Warwick. To learn more about the 2018 Poppy Project or to make a donation visit www.warwickpoppies.org.uk or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any money raised by the exhibition will be shared between the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and St. Mary’s Church.