Since I was a child I have visited the small town of Ypres in Belgium numerous times, and while there I have gone on to visit the numerous war memorials and burial sites where there are hundreds and hundreds of white crosses marking the burial place of soldiers killed in WW1 – allies and non-allies (whose grave markers are actually black squares laying on the floor). Then there is the Menin gate in the town centre itself that is covered with the names of those who are missing in action from WW1. The poppy worn for remembrance has its origins in the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ that was written by Lieutenant Colonel Colin McRae. I’ve visited the place McRae is said to have written the poem. It’s a very somber place. There are poppies everywhere.
This year I am not wearing a poppy on remembrance day. I haven’t got one because I haven’t been anywhere that has sold them. It doesn’t mean I wont remember the people who have died in conflict – both troops and civilians, family and strangers…
A poppy is a symbol. A two minute silence is a symbolic action. You don’t need a poppy to remember and you don’t need a two minute silence to remember.
Shockingly to some, you don’t even need to remember. It is completely your choice and you shouldn’t have to face questions from people about why you’re not wearing a poppy or being silent.
If you’re one of those people who has stopped someone in the street or has questioned why someone isn’t wearing a poppy (which has happened to me twice), ask yourself why it is any of your business what another person chooses to do, and then walk away.
Perhaps if you are one those people who has posted on Facebook ‘you can either stand behind our troops or stand in front of them’ you can ask yourself what you are actually saying. We should agree with your view on war or be prepared to die?
If you really stand by that sentiment, you are a pretty horrifying person.
I’m afraid to break it to you, life isn’t that simple. Actions and words and feelings and opinions are very complicated.
Some people will wear a poppy, some people wont wear a poppy. It’s not problem. Some will remember with or without a poppy and some wont take the minutes to remember at all. It’s their choice and not yours. It’s called ‘freedom of expression’ and it’s a basic human right.
Deal with it.