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Thursday, 10 November 2011

What's with the poppy's appeal?

Not so long ago the poppy was losing its appeal. However, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the many tragic deaths that have resulted seem to have brought it well and truly back into fashion. 

Personally, I find its association with these two recent wars more likely to put me off wearing one than when it seemed purely associated with the remembrance of those that died in the two world wars that happened before I was born.

I wouldn't say that I was a pacifist. That would mean that I didn't believe in wars full stop. There have been wars that were just and needed to happen in spite of the sacrifices that went with them. But I'm against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore I wouldn't want to wear a symbol that could be construed as endorsing these.

I do object to the fact that it's seen as distinctly unpatriotic not to wear a poppy. Consider the stick given to newsreader Jon Snow when he refuses to wear one.

The furore about the England team not being able to wear them on their shirts was frankly blown out of all proportion. It was just another excuse for English people to moan about a foreign body, in this case FIFA, having a say in anything we do. FIFA have rules stating that that no political emblems are worn. 

Poppies are political. What if one of the England footballers was to turn up on Saturday and refuse to wear his armband with a poppy on? I bet that would be construed as being politically motivated. I know someone who was told to take their white poppy off when entering Parliament because you aren't allowed to wear political symbols within the Houses. Why is the white poppy which symbolises an end to war and a commitment to peace a political statement when a red one that remembers those who died fighting in wars isn't?

This year the British Legion is hoping to raise a record breaking £40million from the poppy appeal. I hope they do achieve this to assist those who are paying the price of being involved in conflict to rehabilitate or for loved ones to recover from their losses. But it shouldn't let the state escape from their duty to these people. As Richard Jackson points out on his blog:
"Instead of buying a red poppy, we should demand that the state pay the full support and rehabilitation of all soldiers who need it out of the taxes we have already paid to the military. If this means that there is not enough money for the next military adventure because we are taking care of the last war’s victims, then this is how it should be."
I do appreciate the good work that the British Legion do and have donated to them. At 11am tomorrow I will remember, like millions of others, those that have given their lives in wars. Not just those that were in the military or considered by our state to be on the right side but for the innocent civilian victims too.

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