Why I won’t ‘Wear my Poppy with Pride’

Unless you’ve been living under a rock your whole life, then you’ll know that very soon Remembrance Sunday will be upon us, the day that we remember the fallen from the two World Wars and also more recent conflicts.

Here in Britain, the Royal British Legion runs their Poppy Appeal every year, which raises money to support veterans of war, as well as injured and serving personnel and their families by selling small paper poppies to wear on your lapel, and of recent times shiny poppy brooches for the more fashion conscious.

Poppy sellers are appearing on every street corner, and poppies are once again becoming de rigeur as the must-have accessory, at least for a few weeks.

The Poppy was chosen as a symbol of remembrance after the First World War in which Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in the battle scarred fields, to write a now famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.

I can barely begin to imagine the suffering, pain, hopelessness and anguish of the men fighting in the trenches who gave their lives, their wellbeing, their sanity and goodness knows what else whilst being told they were ‘cowards’ for not wanting to be sent to untimely deaths in WWI.

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I know that for many the Poppy represents honouring those who fought for freedom, and they take pride in the actions of those involved in conflicts.

There are many stories of bravery, strength and camaraderie which continue to inspire and evoke strong feelings to this day, and rightly so.

But why are we told to wear our poppy with ‘pride?’

Anybody who has served in any sort of conflict, let alone a world war (although I have been lucky enough to meet a few who did) will tell you the truth:

War is not glorious.

War is nothing to be proud of.

War is suffering and death – nothing more, nothing less.

I recently had the honour of meeting adorable 92 year old Stanley, who is still surprisingly sprightly despite his advancing years and dodgy knees.

He served in the RAF during WWII, but told me that he keeps a low profile because he would, in his words “be too sought after” and he really has no desire to talk about it.

He is tight lipped about what he witnessed, and you can see the pain it brings him, even now, over 70 years later, to remember.

And yet, the Poppy Appeal urges us to ‘remember them’ but why?

I have to question why we are urged to remember and feel bad about the sacrifices they made, when these men and women (and animals) were sent to their deaths by politicians, royalty or others ‘in power’ purely to serve their own ends.

They were not sent to war for us, despite what they were told – they were sent for and by monarchs, leaders and politicians who were playing a much bigger and more sinister game behind the scenes.

As time goes on, the truth emerges about past conflicts and wars, and most of them (if not all) were completely unnecessary, avoidable and sometimes just plain wrong.

Hiding behind the word ‘Freedom’ does not make an illegal war any more justified, Mr Blair. And neither does a half hearted faux-pology.

And yet we are whipped into a nationalist frenzy by propaganda and told who our enemies are. We are then pointed in the direction of the “bad guys” without really knowing who, what or why, handed a weapon, and pushed into the direction of fire.

I realise that’s an over simplification, but that’s essentially what happens to the people in war time.

With the advent of social media, the internet and the ability to exchange information freely, quickly and easily, the truth behind wars and conflict is becoming painfully transparent.

Politicians can try all they might to pretend they have our best interests, our people’s best interests of the interests of “freedom” (yes, I laughed too) at heart but the fact is – THEY DO NOT AND THEY NEVER HAVE.

It’s all about money, greed and power. It always has been and it will continue to be until we stand united and do something about it.

So no, I will not wear my poppy with ‘pride’, and I will not be taken in by the propaganda spinning me lies about “baddies” and people to hate, despise or fear.

I will not be party to the international round of bullying currently taking place under the guise of ‘protecting ourselves against terrorists’, where the big boys are taking advantage of the chaos they have created to steal the weaker kids lunch money, on a huge and murderous scale.

I WILL remember those who are fallen, but I will use them as my inspiration to build a better world where we are no longer ruled by power hungry politicians, corporate interests and outdated monarchy who once a year pay lip-service to the victims of their selfish games of war, and make a big show of laying meaningless wreaths at the Cenotaph whilst continuing their self-serving, war-mongering ways.

Yes, I will wear my Poppy, but I will wear it with my eyes wide open and I urge you to do the same.

We should not be proud, we should be sad! We should be horrified and appalled!

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The blood-red Poppy should serve as a reminder to us all, of those who were sent to die needless and horrible deaths, for the selfishness of those in power – those who would seek to maintain their rule over us, and serve only themselves as they continue, ever filled with greed and avarice, to feather their already-gilt nests.

Let these humble red flowers remind you of the unnecessary bloodshed, and the remorselessness of those who caused it, and who continue to do so under their guise of righteousness.

So, no I will NOT wear my poppy with ‘pride’ this year or any other.

I will wear my poppy with deep sorrow, but I will use it as my inspiration to build a better world.