Thursday, 5 November 2009

We shall keep the Faith

It's that time of year again. Out into the cold they tread, men and women, medals pinned to their chests. They jangle a tin of coins and present a box of poppies.

The poppy as a symbol of remembrance originated in 1918. Inspired by the war poem 'In Flanders Field' by John McCrae, US Professor Moina Michaels promised to always wear a poppy for those who served in the war. And so it goes...

Sadly, the Poppy Appeal has bought much debate in recent years. Last year Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow refused to wear a poppy on air, stating that it should be a personal choice, not a political force. 2009 proves no different. In The Independent yesterday, Mark Steel asked, 'why should I be pressured into wearing a poppy?' He argued that the selling of the famous red flower was a government conspiracy; a ploy to ensure we keep on fighting. Even pubs and libraries have jumped on the 'poppy fascist' bandwagon by refusing to sell them.

I am disgusted.

They are missing the point by a country mile. The wearing of a poppy is not just about remembering those who have lost lives fighting for the freedom of our country. It's not just about the past. It's about hope and support for our future. To turn the poppy into a political symbol is outrageous and extremely naive.

The Royal British Legion use money raised in the Poppy Appeal to help provide financial, social and emotional support for those who have served and continue to serve in our Armed Forces. By actively refusing to wear a poppy, we are implying that these needs are not valid; that our forces are not important; that we just don't care. In times such as these; how is that right?

When my Nan passed away a month ago, we found a poppy amidst her belongings. Stuck to a small wooden cross, underneath she had written, 'To us you were the world.' This for my Granddad who died in the RAF in 1944. It represented his memory, her pride in his duty served. A tiny red symbol of her loss. Our loss. She kept that for sixty-five years. Political? I think not.

Just like my Nan, I keep a poppy. Every November I buy a new one and I wear it with pride. Not just for my Granddad but for all the Granddad's. Uncle's. Brother's. Friend's.

In the big scheme of things, it isn't difficult to pin a small red flower to your lapel. For one week, one day out of a year, that's all it takes to show some respect. Forget the political ramifications, the debate, and the conspiracy theories. Remember the dead, the injured, the families left behind. That's what the poppy really stands for.


  1. What can you say, another thought paradigm lost to politics.

    it's awful.

    the poppey for me is almost a pacifist symbol, it reminds us of what war costs, forget that and we are in trouble.


  2. This is the most insane human behaviour I've observed. Now that we live in peace 'coz of the thousands and millions of martyrs who brought this peace to us, we can simply sit tight and form such insane judgements. They think they're very clever in doing that. In my country (India) there are people who are so ready to prove that the great Mahathma Gandhi was a hypocrite and a selfish man and he only had political motives. There are people around the world who are so very keen to prove that Jesus had a sexual life and that he had kids! I mean, what if he had? Why should it matter? It do not undo the fact that he was a man great enough to get himself crucified for the betterment of humanity. It pains my heart to see when people who thinks so clever about themselves come up with such arguments!

  3. This is a great post. However, I'm with Snow. I work for a TV station and everyone's forced to wear a poppy. To me, it becomes meaningless when you're told to do something. Everyone should wear a poppy - but only after thinking about the sacrifices made and deciding for themselves that it's a tribute they want to make.

  4. I think this is a very well written post. I also agree that there should be freedom of choice. It is no statement of anything at all if no one is given the choice as to whether to participate or not. But by the same token, it's disgusting that something like the poppy should be corrupted by ignorance and pseudo political correctness.

  5. I really loved this post. I'm kind of on the fence about this, though in America we don't do this so I had no idea of the issue. I think it should be a personal choice, but I don't understand why someone wouldn't want to do it. I guess I understand the being forced to side of it, but you can't think of it that way. It's simply a way to honor the military, that's that. You either support them or you don't. That's just my opinion though. Thank you for bringing this issue to light to non-knowing Americans! :)


  6. I agree with the last paragraph about how people should forget the 'political ramifications'. Even though it's not right to force someone to wear the poppy, why wouldn't someone wear it? I guess I agree with Konnor's comment as well. ^^

    Great post, I really liked it.

  7. Thanks for all your comments. Okay, so everyone may not have the same opinion as me but i understand and accept that- we are all entitled. I guess as it is a cause close to my heart, i feel a little strongly about it!

    Thanks for reading everyone. :)


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