Wear It With Pride

October 24, 2008 at 8:20 am 6 comments

Yesterday the Royal British Legion launched this year’s annual Poppy Appeal. The RBL is a charity which provides support to men and women who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces, and their dependents. Selling poppies is one way in which they generate funds.

While I believe that the Poppy Appeal, and wearing of poppies, are common in North America (in Canada they are known as “Clowns Shoes”) and the Commonwealth, I know that their symbolism is not well understood in many parts of Europe. When I have worn my poppy on business trips in the past it has been the cause of some bemusement and discussion. So, I hope that this will be illuminating for some of my Continental visitors.

Wearing a poppy is also an important part of the annual Remembrance Day which is held on the Sunday closest to the 11th November and the Two Minute Silence, which is now commonly observed at 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month – being the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended the  bloody conflict of World War 1. At these times we pause to remember the loss and sacrifice of those who have served and died in all conflicts from the Great War until the present day.

The use of the poppy was inspired by the poem of John MCCrae:

In Flanders’ Fields
John McCrae, 1915

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields

Wearing of the poppy is not, as some would claim, a celebration of victory over our past enemies or a celebration of war or our military heritage. Just look into the eyes of the veterans marching past the Cenotaph with their medals swinging proudly on their puffed out chests, or hear the word’s of Binyon’s “For the Fallen”, or the plaintive cry of the bugle  playing the Last Post, and you can tell that it is indeed an act of remembrance. A memory of loss, young lives cut short, and, thanks for the sacrifice of many.

That is why I shall be wearing my poppy with pride again this year.

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Entry filed under: Politics. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Peter the Pedant  |  October 24, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Well put … agree absolutley with the sentiments you so eloquently state.

    The Legion do a great deal of good work for those (or the dependents of those) who have made significant sacrifices in the various conflicts throughout the years …..so dig deep when you put your deposit in the collectors tin … it’s a worthy cause

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  • 2. Dennis the Vizsla  |  October 24, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    This made me think of the old Sting song “Children’s Crusade”. Very moving.

    Like

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  • 3. peterreynolds  |  November 2, 2008 at 7:32 am

    A very elegant, thoughtful and informative tribute. Thanks for reading mine:

    http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/we-will-remember-them/

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  • 4. homepaddock  |  November 3, 2009 at 9:09 am

    In New Zealand poppies are more widely worn for ANZAC Day (April 25th) when most official commemorations take place. But we do observe Armistace Day too, not as a celebration of war but an acknowledgement of sacrifice and to remember lest we forget.

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  • 5. James Daly  |  November 3, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Very well put. Especially the point about Poppies not being about celebrating war. Too often people completely miss the point of what the Poppy is about

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  • 6. Middle Man  |  November 3, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Reblogged this on Middle Man and commented:

    In light of all this nonsense from FIFA regarding a ban on the England and Scotland football teams from wearing poppy armbands, I thought I would reblog this post.

    The poppy is neither political (unless you ignore its meaning and choose to oppose its wearing), nor is it religious. It is a sign of respect and remembrance for those who fought and those who fell on the fields of Flanders, on the Normandy beaches, in the jungles of Korea, on the hills above Port Stanley, in the dust of Helmand, and everywhere else that brave men and women served and continue to serve to maintain our freedom and the right of people and organisations such as FIFA to spew such nonsense! @WearItWithPride

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