Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Poppy - editorial response

Dear Colonel,

I refer to yours of the 20th inst.

The article in CDB did as intended - it provoked dialogue and discussion, without fully addressing all of the issues associated with the wearing, or otherwise, of the poppy. .

There are other worrying dichotomies which arise when considering the matter. The first I would like to highlight is the "charitable status" achieved by the organisations promoting the sale of the flower. I find it slightly disconcerting to think that the money spent on purchasing the badges is used to support the war-injured (or simply the war-veterans) who have served in the British Army. If their own Government, which determined which causes they would die for, will not provide appropriate support, then why should we? A troubling angle to the issue which is compounded by the fact I may not agree with their chosen causes - a point you rightly make.

Secondly, the poppy is worn on the 11th of November, Armistice Day, and as such it commemorates the outbreak of peace. Peace which came in a war that counted 16.5 million deaths, of whom 1.0 million were from the United Kingdom. The remaining 15.5 million came from a multitude of countries, six of whom individually had a greater number of casualties than the UK. In these circumstances it seems a shame that the wearing of the poppy in our country has been associated with a pro-British allegiance, when clearly it represents so much more. Maybe in turn this is attributable to the first point I make - the adoption or hijacking of the poppy by the British war veterans groups and charities.

I wore the poppy on the 11th.  Part of that decision was driven by the same belief James McClean was displaying - a belief in free speech and self-determination I wasn't challenged on the day nor did I receive any snide comments - this surprised and, I hate to admit, partly disappointed me. Maybe at the end of the day there is hope.

Thanks you for your letter - this matter will obviously require further debate after we listen to the Last Post at Ypres in February next year. I look forward to that dialogue.

Yours, etc,