This week the BBC news article 5 reasons people don’t wear a poppy caught my eye and has got me thinking. For me, I’ve grown up with the poppy being an important symbol; it takes me all the way back to when I was a brownie guide, standing proud and leading the Remembrance Sunday parade through the village, holding the flag high with my elbow in the air. Nowadays – there is less flag-flying but I still continue to wear my poppy proudly every year on and around Remembrance Day.
For my readers abroad – the poppy is the symbol adopted by The Royal British Legion to mark Remembrance Day (11th November) and since 1921, millions of poppies have been sold to support the Poppy Appeal in aid of those serving in British Armed Forces, it also serves as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives too.
This year, there seems to be a lot of opinions being bounded around regarding our famous poppy symbol – I have seen a huge amount of criticism of those who wear the poppy and criticism for those who don’t – It seems you can’t win. You would think for such an important cause, we could just agree to disagree and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice the brave soldiers made, as posed to focusing on politics. On the other hand, if people decide against wearing the poppy, that is their choice too. Instead terms such as “poppy fascists” and “culture bullying” have sprung up and are being hurled around, which to me is deflecting our attention from what wearing the poppy is all about.
So, my thoughts are – have we all lost sight of the reason for wearing the poppy? Ultimately the reason we wear the symbol is not about our beliefs, it’s not about politics or shaming others for their decisions, it’s about showing a mark of respect for the people that fought for our country. Standing proud for those who without their deaths we wouldn’t be in the privileged position where we can have freedom of speech, share opinions, write our blogs (!) and live in a state of democracy – a position which still in the 21st century is not afforded to very many countries across the world.
So this year, don’t just buy a poppy as you feel you have to or to fit in, but do so to be proud, support the cause and show your respect for our fallen heroes.
Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime. . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Wilfred Owen – written between 8 October 1917 and March, 1918
* My official British Legion Poppy Brooch and earrings are from Buckley London priced £15 each, Buckley London donate all profits to the Royal British Legion and have raised millions for the charity over the past few years.