Story by Lourice Angie
A total of 346 people from Warwick, NY served in WWI, and of that number seven perished. In the small town of Warwickshire, England more than 11,600 people also made the ultimate sacrifice. The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war. It represents a common field poppy, Papaver rhoeas, an annual herbaceous species of flowering plant in the poppy family, Papaveraceae.
Last year, long time Warwick resident and a member of the Village of Warwick Sesquicentennial Committee, George Arnott, received a request from Christine Cross former Mayoress of Warwick, England to join in a global project to commemorate the 100th year of the end of World War One. The international campaign was designed for communities and people to come together and create knitted poppies for every soldier who lost their life during the war. Without a second thought, The Sesquicentennial Committee teamed up with other local organizations, artists, and members of the community and formed “Knitting Our Warwicks Together.”
Women have always contributed to making a difference in society and WWI had a huge impact on the way women are today, and so, it was appropriate under the circumstances when 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, offered in helping facilitate the project.
The library also served as a knit and drop off location. 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 was also displayed at the Library. In addition, the Warwick Valley Rotary generously donated $300 for the red yarn needed to make the poppies.
Poppies Receive Blessing & Make Their Way to England
On Thurs., May 3 members of the “Knitting Our Warwicks Together” Committee, local Veterans, Town Officials, Dignitaries and residents assembled at the Library for a photo and final count of the poppies before they were shipped to the U.K. A total of 664 locally handmade poppies were created through the help of gracious community members. Rev. Richard Morrano of St. Stephen’s Church led the group in prayer. He prayed for all of the fallen, their families and for peace. The poppies were then blessed and sprinkled with holy water.
“How appropriate to do this on our National Day of Prayer as a country, and what a beautiful opportunity to send that prayer to an international community,” said Pastor Morrano.
Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton and Warwick Village Mayor Michael Newhard presented proclamations to organizer George Arnott that commended the work of “Knitting Our Warwicks Together” by bringing communities together for this great tribute of the sacrifices made during the Great War.
On Fri., May 4, the poppies were packaged with the proclamations and shipped to the St. Mary’s Royal Regimental Chapel in England by Cedric Glasper, President and CEO of Glasper Mechanical Rubber in Warwick, who handled the shipping costs. The poppies will be unveiled in a flowing display inside and around the Church in October as a fitting community tribute to the sacrifices made during the war.
The hopes of this international campaign are to display over 11,000 of the beautifully knitted red poppies (one for each life lost in Warwickshire, England) to serve as a commemorative, moving, spectacular and highly topical display that will enhance the praise and worship of the Centennial Anniversary of the end of WWI. The Town of Warwick is now identified on a world-wide map of contributors that includes Canada and Australia. Former Mayoress Christine Cross made a proclamation to send twenty blessed handmade poppies from England to the Town of Warwick to be presented to local Veterans on Memorial Day.
Former Mayoress of Warwick, England Christine Cross shared said, “Whoever thought such a fantastic project would come out of a chance remark I made when leaving Warwick, NY last August. ‘Knitting Our Warwicks Together ‘ creates many emotions and will be remembered for many years after the Centenary commemorations are over. Our thanks initially should go to George Arnott who took up the challenge and was very soon joined with much enthusiasm by Rosemary at the Albert Wisner Library. We are however most grateful to everyone who dusted off their knitting needles and contributed to the project. Your contribution is far greater than I ever imagined but the most important element in every poppy is the love and respect we have between the UK & the USA.”
George Arnott gave a very special thanks to the citizens of Warwick who contributed and to “Knitting Our Warwicks Together” facilitators, Rosemary Cooper and local artist Pat Foxx, saying, “They were instrumental to the project.”
He also thanked the Warwick Valley VFW Post 4662 Auxiliary and their President Rachel Rivera as well as Jan Gariess of the Sugar Loaf Crafters.
“Many thanks to George Arnott who has been the greatest ambassador that the Village could ever have,” said Mayor Newhard.
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. Funds raised by the exhibition will be shared between the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and St. Mary’s Church.