They were nurses, coal miners, farmhands and carpenters – ordinary men and women whisked away to the battlefields of Western Europe to fight for the freedom we all enjoy today.
Names such as Newcastle's Ray Hobden, Matron Ida Greaves, Walter Barton and James Dalton – the unsung heroes of World War I who left their work on the land, in hospitals and on job sites for the war-torn northern continent.
They are but a few of the countless men and women whose memories will be celebrated on Sunday when we unveil the Newcastle Eternal Flame of Remembrance at Civic Park as part of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
SEE: the final touches being put on the Newcastle Eternal Flame of Remembrance
But this most hallowed addition to the city's Civic heart will honour all Newcastle servicemen and women: past, present and future.
Housed in a stone plinth, and built of the same granite as the adjacent Word War II monument, the flame will be surrounded by new paving etched with the solemn words of the Ode of Remembrance and four new nine-metre flagpoles.
The poles will fly the Australian, Aboriginal, United Nations and City of Newcastle flags.
The Eternal Flame project is a joint initiative by the City of Newcastle and the Australian government through the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
The city has worked closely with local veterans and the Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon MP, to deliver this significant and lasting tribute to the men and women of war.
The shrine to their memory will now join a list of other major war memorials with an Eternal Flame. Iconic monuments such as the Paris’s Arc de Triomphe, Washington DC’s Kennedy Memorial and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and Shrines of Remembrance in both Melbourne and Brisbane that date back to World War I.
Housed in a stone plinth, and built of the same granite as the adjacent Word War II monument, the Eternal Flame will be surrounded by new paving etched with the solemn words of the Ode of Remembrance
The signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, which ended the war between the Allied nations – including the Anzacs – and the German Army in France, was one of the most significant events in world history.
Armistice Day – also widely known as Remembrance Day – closed the chapter on four years of continuous fighting along the Western front where millions of men and women lost their lives.
While we may never truly comprehend the magnitude of the war, nor the reasons for the slaughter, we will certainly never forget the roles many Novocastrians played.
The Eternal Flame's connection to war and its use as a memorial was said to be first raised by the French journalist Gabriel Boissy shortly after World War I.
Boissy coined the idea of using an eternal flame in connection with war memorials or shrines to represent remembrance and to symbolise an eternal soul.
Newcastle has never had a dedicated Eternal Flame, so it is pleasing to add this symbolic connection to the Civic precinct and to our collection of existing monuments, commemorative plaques and other memorials.
Our City of Newcastle staff deserve thanks for their tireless work on the ground to deliver this project for Armistice Day, as well as the federal government for their contribution towards the delivery of the Eternal Flame.
The Eternal Flame's unveiling will be the culmination of four years of centenary of Anzac commemorations in which the City of Newcastle has worked tirelessly with the Newcastle RSL Sub-branch, led by sub-branch president Ken Fayle and vice-president Stephen Finney.
Our Anzac Day commemorations continue to grow with new additions such as the ceremonial lighting of the flame at this year's Nobbys dawn service from one that has flickered in Christchurch Cathedral for almost 100 years.
Although the centenary will end this Sunday, we will continue to honour the memories of those who served, and I look forward to revealing new developments on that front next April.
I will be deeply honoured to offer this flame on behalf of all Novocastrians as a meaningful tribute to of our city's former, past and present war heroes.
The City of Newcastle invites all Novocastrians to Civic Park this Sunday for the unveiling at 10.30am, when we not only celebrate a significant historical event, but create history of our own.
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