It’s that time of year again. As we approach Remembrance Day, 11th November, red poppies will become highly visible in our everyday lives. They are worn on lapels and stuck on the front of cars. What does the red poppy really mean?
Most people are aware of the inspiration of the poem ‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow’ but how many of us know that the first red poppies were made by the women of Northern France at the instigation the US to raise funds for children who had suffered in the war? Only later were they adopted by the British Legion as a fund raising tool and over the years the red poppy has become ubiquitous in October/November every year.
There is now an unpleasant tendency to use the Poppy Appeal as a propaganda tool to glorify war. The British Legion does much good for services personnel and their families but is this role they should be taking on?
‘The question lingers: if the dead are said to have 'sacrificed' their lives, then why weren't the living, who came out of the same danger, being suitably honoured and cared for by the state that sent them’
Instead of looking back at the past, wearing the white poppy is a symbol of wanting to prevent future wars. Our service men and women would not need intensive support services if we did not send them to fight unnecessary wars. White poppies are not intended as an insult to the fallen, many of whom were husbands, brothers or father of the women of the Cooperative Women’s Guild who first made them. It is intended as a reminder of the horrors of war and to insist that those in power should resist war and try to solve conflicts peacefully. So buy your white poppy and remember all the victims of war.