Saturday, 25 October 2008

Poppies and Remembrance Day

I've noticed that poppies are on the counters in shops once again. I feel that it used to be they were only on sale/available the week before remembrance day but it is a few weeks ahead of that now. I can understand the desire to ensure as many donations as possible. It has been a long lasting British tradition that still maintains popularity and success. We continue to have British soldiers killed and damaged on behalf of our country who need or will need extra support through this charity. In recent years I've noticed alternative white poppies available. I haven't quite worked out their point. Is is about pacifism? Not supporting war? Wearing of red poppies doesn't signify a support of war but a support of people who need help. Perhaps a way of thanking those who fight on behalf of their country but remembrance is not really about thanks is it? It's about remembering. Remembering lives shattered, torn for example. where does the money go for white poppies?

The most famous peom that mentions Flander's red poppies was written by John McCrae, a Canadian. The first verse is

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row

That mark our lace; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing fly

scarce heard amongst the guns below.

It's interesting how strong and long lasting the words of the war poets are. It's a shame that we often come across them in school where being taught how to read poetry seems to ruin anyone's desire to read it ever again. Today reporting of war is all pictures, sanitised CNN. War, and the horrors of war are rarely communicated as powerfully as was done during the first world war. Have a read of some of them at this time of year and feel the power. Siegfried Sassoon is my particular favourite

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