Australia Day is that day when we in Australia celebrate our nationhood. I understand that not every Australian has the same connection to the day/date, but nevertheless at this point in our history, this is our day to reflect and to give thanks. And to be honest … I think we are incredibly lucky to call Australia home, and I would rather live in this country with all its flaws and challenges, than anywhere else in the world. It is a privilege.
This year is a little more special for me personally because I have been awarded an Order of Australia for service to Veterans and the community for the 5000 Poppies Project, and I am feeling … well … very proud.
It’s been a long and sometimes overwhelming journey to where we are with our “little” project. We never expected it to have the impact that it did, not only in Australia but in many places around the world … and I truthfully could not have achieved what we have achieved without the help of some very special people who have worked very hard with me to bring this project to fruition … words will never be enough to express my gratitude …
So while this award is ostensibly in recognition of my efforts in leading an amazing team to create this incredibly special work of art … on a super huge scale … I believe the award is really a recognition of the work of many thousands of contributors to the 5000 Poppies Project.
As you probably know, the Order of Australia is about service, and there are many forms of service – this has been ours. To create this stunning tribute to our servicemen and women, past and present, their families and their communities. Simultaneously a very personal tribute from each of us, and a very public collective message of love, honour, respect and gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
What we have achieved is breathtaking … and beautiful, and heartfelt, and meaningful on so many levels.
I was asked in an interview with Jon Faine back in 2015 what this project means to me and my answer then was that it’s ultimately about connection … people and community … and not suprisingly that still holds true for me.
So again, congratulations to all of you, on a stunning job very well done.
Thank you … thank you from the bottom of my heart for your contribution … and a special thank you to all of you who went the extra mile(s) to make this Project amazing … and there are many. Thank you to Kate and the rest of the core PHQ team in particular, and thank you to those who led and worked in groups all over the country to make this happen … thank you for your generosity, your warmth, your strength, your support, your work ethic, your dogged determination, your spirit, your love. Thank you for just being here … it’s been a wonderful journey. And it’s been an honour.
Thank you to Ted Baillieu who came right at the start, wondering what all the fuss was about, and then challenged us to create something so much “more” than what we had originally planned.
A huge thank you to Phil Johnson who took our beautiful poppies and our dreams and used his special skills to design a work of such beauty and poignancy, that it brought us to tears and the world stood up and took notice.
And of course, thank you to Margie who was there from the start AND who reminds me often that she warned me that it was going to be “bigger than Ben Hur” … but stayed anyway and has travelled this amazing road with me to the finish.
However, the biggest thank you of all goes to Wal and Stan, our dads, both WWII Veterans, who were there with us at the beginning, and who spurred us on in their own bemused but gentle way even if they weren’t physically here. For Marg and I, you are our personal heroes, and this has always been about you.
5000 Poppies has become a global movement of sorts now … made up of micro groups that will continue to evolve and create for self and community. But as Ted Bailieu often reminds me … there is this little red thread of connection that runs around the globe connecting us to each other, connecting us to our wider communities, connecting us with our personal histories and the personal histories of others (and interestingly some of our wider group have found shared personal histories in the process), connecting us with our past, and connecting us with the present and a legacy that I think will live on well into the future. And it is a legacy that I am proud of.
I am truly honoured to receive this award in recognition of us all.
With much love and gratitude
Lynn Berry OAM