If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one

Every year the poppy parading gets earlier and earlier like Christmas adverts. The poppy police have been out in force since mid October, complaining that there are people on the telly not bearing the obligatory badge of British militarism. If you don’t wear a poppy you don’t support the troops, and if you don’t support the troops then you’re practically a member of ISIS.

It’s not enough to remember the dead in your own way. It’s not allowed to light a quiet candle in your heart. It’s not permitted to make a donation in private to a charity of your choice. You have to make a show of it. You have to make a public display in an establishment approved manner, a way that doesn’t challenge or question, a way that won’t rock any boats or change anything that the powerful do. Poppies are the regimentation of remembrance. We remember the dead as soldiers, not as human beings. A unique life reduced to a name, a rank, and a serial number on serried rows of identical graves. And the civilians who die as collateral damage don’t get remembered at all. The most personal feeling of all, grief, becomes a public parade.

The poppy does not represent peace, it never did. It was begun by a man who sent thousands to their deaths WW1 in order to gain a few metres of mud for the Empire. It was a way of raising money to pay for the care of those maimed by a state which had no intention of caring for those it had maimed and then cast out, forgotten and broken. The poppy was sold to raise money to pay for the things that the state wouldn’t pay for – to pay for a decent life for those who could no longer provide a decent life for themselves or their families. Almost 100 years later the British state still won’t take full responsibility for the care of those it has brutalised, but it’s still ready to rush into war. Poppies ought to be a badge of shame for the British state, instead they became a glorification of it.

The poppy is not a symbol of pacifism, and it’s certainly not a symbol of opposition to war. Poppies do not say “never again”, they say: “We will remember the next time too.” Because this is Britain and there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that, wars and destruction stretching out into the future in a never ending cycle of death and desolation. Poppies are the cant that covers the permanence of warfare and Britain’s love of bombs and bullets. Poppies are the holy relics of the British state’s cult of military martyrdom. Oppose it and you’re a blasphemer, a heretic, a witch who deserves to be burned.

What exactly are the people who ordered the senseless deaths of servicemen and women doing at services of remembrance? Tony Blair wears a poppy religiously, which is like a murderer appearing at a commemoration service for their victim bearing their photograph and a sad face. Why is it that we remember the victims of militarism with military parades? That’s wrong. Armies should not be allowed anywhere near a commemoration of those who’ve died in wars.

A remembrance of the dead is no place for uniforms, for marching, for generals and admirals. When we remember the dead we’ve loved and lost we should remember individuals, human beings with their unique lives. It’s their uniqueness that makes them human and it’s the loss of that unique humanity that makes their deaths a tragedy. The state sponsored services lose that – deliberately – the dead become an undifferentiated mass, dehumanised and depersonalised. And that makes it easier for that same state to send new generations off to fight its wars and to die in foreign lands, or to come home maimed and broken where they’re forced into work assessment interviews and their needs not met. And then we remember them in the same depersonalised way, and the whole cycle of death and pain and loss repeats itself while the British state presides over another pointless war.

The best way to help those who have suffered and lost because of the military actions of the British state is to campaign to ensure that the state fulfills its obligations to them. We can do more for ex-servicepeople by ending the iniquities of work assessments for the disabled and providing decent mental health services. But the same government that sponsors the parades and the ceremonies is axing the support services that those who’ve been wounded require.

The best way to remember those who have died in war is to ensure that there are no more wars. We can honour the memory of those who died in Britain’s wars by campaigning to ensure that Britain has no more wars. But the British establishment likes its wars. In the 308 years since Scotland became a part of the UK there have been barely 65 years of peace. That’s what punching above our weight means, it means parades for the dead whose individuality is lost in a military grave. It means that the establishment which bolsters its position with warfare keeps causing more wars. If we want peace it must mean an end to militarism.

The glorification of the military is no way to remember the dead who died because of the militarisation of society. We dishonour them. We dishonour the dead when children wearing t-shirts bearing the legend Future Soldier parade with oversized poppies. No child should look forward to a future of warfare. The poppy has ceased to become a symbol of care, it’s a symbol of militarisation. It’s a symbol of an establishment that refuses to be challenged. It’s a symbol of a loss of choice and democracy.

I won’t wear a red poppy. That doesn’t mean I won’t donate to a charity that helps those who have suffered and lost. That doesn’t mean I don’t remember the dead or have no understanding of the sacrifices that others made. That doesn’t mean I don’t grieve for loss and suffering. What it means is that my grief is personal and will not be regimented. What it means is that I strive for peace, not for the glory of an army.

If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one. Remember the dead with a symbol of peace.



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98 comments on “If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one

    • Jayne Weaver says:

      I agree that everyone should be able to remember in the way that they see fit and that there should never be any pressure to wear a red poppy or attend a rememberance service. However I choose to do both. Not because I want to glorify war or to forget the humanity of each individual that has lost their life. I wear a red poppy because I believe that’s what most veterans would like, I want to respect their wishes and to let them know that I am saying a heartfelt thanks.

  1. […] Source: If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one […]

  2. Saor Alba says:

    This is a very powerful piece Paul and it is very humbly expressed and your dismay at the Establishment is appropriate. It crystallises my thoughts in print. I thank you for that.

    I would really like to meet you and the dug sometime soon if this is possible. I presume you can access my email address.

    I will be putting in an advance order for your new book this week.

    Power to your elbow.

    Saor Alba

  3. macart763 says:

    Very well said Paul.

  4. fionamgrahame says:

    My father who served in WWII and lost most of his comrades at Arnhem used to get really upset each year watching the Armistice Day Parades with politicians & those royals bedecked in phoney medals & their phoney grief.

    • Iain says:

      My late grandfather wasn’t at Arnhem but won his medals on the Belgian coast. He hated the poppy symbol and never wore one. The sight of politicians wearing a obligatory poppy and sad face made him sick. In my family we follow his example.

  5. kenny1888 says:

    After the Great War, the maimed and disabled were hidden from public view in huge residential hospitals and asylums. There was a purpose behind that. It continues today. The “reality” of war continues to be hidden behind poppies and military parades.

  6. Just ordered ‘barking up the wrong tree!! Have so enjoyed the 2 collective barks!! Thank you Paul for your masterful outlook on things so accepted by the masses!!

  7. diabloandco says:

    How very true, though I don’t know where one gets a white poppy.

    For your new book ,is there still the opportunity to purchase using the old fashioned cheque method?

    • weegingerdug says:

      You’ll be able to buy the new book with cash in all good bookshops. You can get white poppies in Calton Books in London Road near Glasgow Cross.

    • Deedee says:

      Or if you’re not in Glasgow you can order white poppies online from the Peace Pledge Union, they are sent out next day : )

      • Jan Cowan says:

        Yes, Deedee, I ordered my white poppies online.

        I totally agree with you, Paul. My father, who spent 6 years of his youth fighting in the Second World War, refused to have anything to do with Armistice Day. No poppies nor religious service around the local War Memorial. He was totally against anything to do with the glorification of war.

        Thank you for your anti-war stance.

    • xsticks says:

      Hi Diablo, You can get white poppies from the Peace Pledge Union http://www.ppu.org.uk/ Got mine there.

      I’ll be wearing a white poppy. I’ll also donate to Poppy Scotland.

      I will not be wearing a red poppy as I feel it has become sullied by it’s political use and increasing pressure from the media to conform to wearing one.

      Thanks for the article Paul. Heartfelt.

  8. mealer says:

    Nicely put.

  9. wendy smillie says:

    I agree with every word. Powerfully put.

  10. mary docherty says:

    Tears tae ma eye !! They were conscripts …In the Yaps suggests a white feather .

  11. gavin C Barrie says:

    Yup, you say it for me Paul , in spades.

    Once being required by my chairman to lie to a client, I protested.. “Its only words’ he answered. And so that’s the Blairs of the world… “Its only another nobody dead”.

    As regards charities, I have a problem, why the exceptional salaries to the chief execs of charities collecting money from the public? To get the the best people they claim!

    The State sent the these poor souls to war, the state should care for them, no ifs or buts, or “assessments”.

  12. benmadigan says:

    great piece Paul. I had an ancestor who fought in the Boer War, Indian campaign and then WWI Coming through them all without a scratch, he’d obviously managed to keep well out of the way of the firing lines!!! He was one of the first to volunteer for WWII – to be told “Go home grandpa!”

    My sister and my cousins wear poppies in his memory. I don’t.

    If you want to see how catholic servicemen and their families were treated when they went back home to Ulster after WWI, WWII and even later have a look here and remember one catholic ex-serviceman even won a VC. I don’t know if the same sort of attitude/behaviour was seen in Scotland


  13. Maureen says:

    Well said Paul. My dad served in WW2. He lost many comrades at Monte Casino. He used to tell us that there is no glory in war. As for the ‘Royals’ and their medals, I won’t repeat what he said. We, the ordinary people, are only cannon fodder for the establishment and are very soon forgotten; but only until the next conflict, whether legal or illegal!

  14. fillofficer says:

    never wore a poppy, but if someone had asked me, i would have struggled to explain why. once again your words have eloquently expressed my innermost thoughts. thanks paul

  15. Ian Ross says:

    My grandfather fought and was badly wounded at the battle of the Somme in the First World War. He refused to wear a poppy as he said that it was the Earl Haig’s conscience money and told his family not to wear that symbol a stricture which I still adhere to.

  16. Gavin says:

    Keir Hardie died a broken man when Labour refused to back him over the slaughter of a generation of young men in WW1, all for the vanity of Kings and Emperors.
    He would not have been amused by the present Labourites dispute as to keep an illegal weapon that cost billions to kill millions for the sake of a few hundred jobs.

  17. tris says:

    And so on Sunday the grand lords, ladies, princesses and princes and even the queen, will turn out wearing black and looking solemn, as well they may do. Then they will all go into the admiralty for drinks, presumably on us. In the meantime they will be planning to send people to die in Syria, because despite the fact they always make a mess of it, there is simply no show without Punch!

  18. jill says:

    Paul, Once again you take the thoughts that for years I have tried to articulate, but have failed to do so and put them in writing so eloquently. I feel honoured to read your words. Long may you write these for the many who cannot.

  19. DaveH says:

    For those in Edinburgh, you can get white poppies in the bookshop under St John’s Kirk at the west end of Princes St.

  20. Janet says:

    Indeed Paul, the State requires that the televised ceremonials become ever more somber, the rows of poppies deeper. And never dare to criticise nor should one question, lest the State accuse one of being disrespectful.

    The debt to GDP ratio is around 90% and they use remembrance as a distraction from their failure.

    Sadly, the poppy has become politicised. Time instead to ask what the State should do for those that it claims to care for.

    We all know that many of the homeless are tormented ex-forces. We know that fine, brave people are cast aside by the cruel State.

  21. Sandra says:

    I have often tried to say to others how I feel about the shallow, politicising of Remembrance Day/weeks, but never with your eloquence Paul. I have found that expressing any view which does not support the manic poppy fever, results in abuse and accusation even from those I counted as friends and also some family. Sunday morning when the showpiece from royalty, politicians and military alike floods the television and news, I shall find a quiet area in my local woods where my two spaniels can run free, wishing that this outpouring of sanctimonious Britishishness could be harnessed and used to truly help those they have abandoned. It’s their needs that should be met with worthwhile care instead of heartless sanctions. I guess though this will never happen and we will continue each year with this show, sending more to be maimed or killed from whichever new conflict they thrust upon us.

  22. Paul. Thank you for articulating perfectly something I’ve agonized over for the last year or two. I always wore a poppy out of that traditional respect for remembrance, but particularly over the last couple of years as my political awareness has grown, I’d felt a growing sense of unease as this time of year has become ever more militarised in an almost fetishistic way. I still remember those who fell though the acceptance of the official narrative has been replaced with the knowledge that far too many across the world have died essentially for the profit of a wealthy elite. Study of WW1 indicates that it was especially so and sadly John McLean’s observations of a century ago still ring in the same dreadful way today. I would happily wear a white poppy today though they are hard to find in this part of the world.

  23. Big Jock says:

    Honest,articulate and insightful. Pity people like vulgar Barbara Windsor haven’t the brains to see the truth.

    I remember the dead in the first world war. But also the Scots and highlanders who died because of the British. I also include the Irish slaughtered by the Black & Tans and the Indians fighting the Raj. I suppose that makes me anti British.

    Seems to me the Brits only want to remember when they are the good guys. The murders of empire are buried from public memory.

  24. Margo Sharp says:

    Can’t agree. Lady Haig started the poppy remembrance to help the families of those lost in WW1. Her husband started the Royal British Legion in Edinburgh to assist the veterans.

  25. sterlingsop says:

    Well said. You raised an interesting point about the people who have been killed in any war are individuals and deserve to be recognised and remembered for their uniqueness. I hadn’t thought of that before and you have made me look at the Remembrance parades in a different light. I take issue at this time of year with the “poppy mafia” going into overdrive and it is getting worse year on year. If James Maclean or Charlene White don’t want to wear a poppy then it’s their choice and they shouldn’t be badgered into it simply because the twitterarchy say they should. At the very least, the soldiers who died in WWI and WWII did so to protect our freedoms and we have they right to exercise that freedom in any way we want to. And that includes the freedom to upset the establishment by not wearing a poppy. Of any colour.

  26. mogabee says:

    As the relative of one who died at The Somme, I give to Haig fund but don’t wear a poppy.

  27. Electric blue says:

    I wanted to stand up and cheer after I read this. You have expressed so eloquently what many of us feel. Thank you.
    I just wish it was more widely read.

  28. arthur thomson says:

    Sadly, like everything else half decent, poppy day has been hijacked and is being misused by the unscrupulous to ensure that future generations share the same fate.

    Every day I remember the sacrifices of all decent people, including those innocents right now in the most horrific war zones and in my own way I try to contribute as positively as I can to change.

    I will always resist the abuse of power and that includes all attempts at moral blackmail.

  29. J Galt says:

    Well said Paul – although many well meaning people such as the lady above will be shocked at the sentiments you express – but then the Truth is very often shocking – as Oscar said “If you’re going to tell people the Truth – make them laugh – otherwise they’ll kill you!”. Although the subject at hand isn’t really a suitable one for jokes.

    I am passionately interested in history and was so even at School, however it has taken me years of study to even come close to an understanding of what WW1 and it’s follow up acts such as WW2 were all about – suffice to say you’ll look in vain to your schoolteachers, the BBC and even the paid propagandists for the British Establishment posing as Chairs of History at Oxford, Cambridge and aye Edinburgh for answers.

  30. Itchybiscuit says:

    My hobby is military history. I own about 600 or so non-fiction books on every conflict from the Crimean War to the present. Yes I’ve read them all – sometimes twice or three times.

    My point being, I remember those poor buggers and their sacrifice every single day of MY life. I never wear a poppy precisely for the reasons stated by WGD – the establishment ‘poppy police’ with their sycophants donning the blood red poppy as early as the 2nd week in October.

    Seeing them pinning their once a year remembrance to their suits makes me feel queasy.

  31. Brian Fleming says:

    This whole remembrance thing has become embroiled in the increasing fascistisation of the British state. It is foul.

  32. hektorsmum says:

    I do not wear a poppy normally when I have it has been a purple one, now you may ask what is that , well it is for all the animals whose lives were taken in man’s wars. I have very little time for those who having never served in any of the services, turn up to show the support they do not actually give to those who have been damaged. I am sick to death looking at the Queens relatives covered in unearned medals.
    It will soon be a hundred years since the first world war ended and not much longer for the end of the second, I am sixty eight now and I was born two years after it ended. Whilst not forgetting or at least learning the reasons behind these conflicts we should put an end to this whole business.
    I surely am not alone in thinking that “Britain” is sinking into a culture of war and celebrating war.

    • You most certainly aren’t alone in thinking this. I think your purple poppy is a nice touch. One I hadn’t heard of before and I hope that when people ask you about it, they go away thinking.

      • No, you are not alone and neither are you alone in thinking of the animals who have died in man’s wars. I’d never heard of the purple poppy, and it is many years since I found that I was sickened by the poppy culture and the implied celebration of death and destruction and stopped wearing the red poppy, though I have sometimes contributed to the fund. I have often though of the animals caught up in, or used in wars though, those that suffered uncomprehendingly in the blasts and gases and radiation etc. And it makes me feel so sad to see youngsters, still kids really, training in the forests in Scotland to go kill and be killed in foreign lands on the whim of the establishment. There is nothing noble about war, nothing to celebrate about maiming and killing, and nothing to be proud of when the maimed and broken are then abandoned on their arrival home

  33. arthur thomson says:

    Sorry, I should have said what a brilliant post this is Paul.

    It is such a relief, after a lifetime of difficult years, to be able to go on the net and enjoy articles and comments that reflect or constructively challenge my own points of view.

  34. Alan says:

    OT: Check out the new ‘British’ passport. It’s supposed to represent ‘UK’ creativity. There are apparently nine people pictured. Some people are upset as only 2 are women. Take a look and see if you can spot how many of the 9 are Scots, Welsh or Irish. There are anonymous men in kilts though!

  35. My passport is up for renewal next year. Don’t think I’ll bother

    • Alan says:

      Link to the pictures in the new one here. The symbolism tells you everything you need to know about the distribution of power in the UK.

      • Guga says:

        That definitely looks like an English passport, and even the Indian colonials get greater exposure than the Scottish colonialswith the latter seeming to be an afterthought.

        The sooner we get our independence and our own Scottish passports, the better.

  36. Mark Wilkinson says:

    I’ve written to The national on this subject:
    My Grandparents, my Great-Grandparents and my Great-Great Grandparents all fought in the Great War and the Second World War. Since I was a boy I have attended and taken part in Remembrance Services. But I find I can no longer attend in all clear conscience as the event has, as far as I can see, been utilised for other causes.
    ‘Lest We Forget’ is a phrase tied tightly to the poppy and to the ceremony of Remembrance, and it seems that this powerful phrase has now become a token utterance. Wwilkinson.mark.1969e are supposed to remember the mindless slaughter of the Great War and the sacrifice of life in defence of freedom in World War 2. This are two conflicts which did unite almost everyone and which few could argue against; those who did were mostly those who objected to war itself for conscientious reasons.
    These last few years have seen a change in the focus of Armistice Day. Poppy Week has become a month long event. The poppy has been adopted by some as a year round symbol of British Nationalism. The poppy has gone from a sober symbol of remembrance to a gaudy decoration for trucks. Anyone appearing on television without a poppy is interrogated as to their reasons, before being subject to abuse. The BBC coverage of the Remembrance Parade from Whitehall is now preceded by coverage of British troops on deployment in Afghanistan or Iraq or some other corner of the globe, making it plain that this is no longer about remembering mans inhumanity to man and how it should never happen again, but it’s about all of Britain’s war dead; in Oil Wars which are or were opposed by many people across the country, and which the UK government still cannot bring itself to reveal the truth about or in post colonial conflicts as it struggled to retain a dying empire.
    In the next few weeks there will appear in the national press adverts to join the armed forces, which I see as a cynical covert attempt to capitalise on the publicity generated at this time of year to recruit a new generation of soldiers, which is totally against the spirit of remembrance.
    The Royal British Legion now advertise their fundraising campaign with the line ‘Support Our Brave Armed Forces’. What if I don’t want to? What if I want to remember the dead of the Great War and World War 2 without appearing to endorse campaigns that British troops should never have taken part in? I should be able to. I would call upon the British Government to set aside time on Armed Forces Day to recognise those who have died in other conflicts or to create a specific Veterans Day to do so. The poppy is not just a British symbol of remembering the dead of two world wars, it’s an international one, and it’s use to justify and foster support for modern wars is the most disrespectful act of all. Isn’t it time we de-politicised this important public show of remembrance and allowed the poppy to rest in peace?

    I’ve also started an online petition about this, I’d be grateful if you could sign and please, please, share.


  37. Quarmby says:

    This article is that rarity from the usually excellent Paul – riddled with misunderstandings and historical inaccuracies. If Paul wants to see the traditional poppy as a ‘badge of militarism’, he’s of course free to do so. But I’m equally free to point out that he’s talking shite in this particular instance.

    • Sue de Nymme says:

      Quarmby, I am sure that I not alone in being interested in your post, and the logic behind it. So, please specify which parts of Paul’s article are ‘misunderstandings and historical inaccuracies’. Thank you.

  38. Alan says:

    What’s also interesting is what isn’t remembered and celebrated. There’s always lots of stuff that happens at the end or after the end of major wars that is swept under the carpet . A few examples (there are lots if you look):
    Mutinies 1917-1920 ,
    1919: The 40-hours strike
    And going back a little further:
    Peterloo Massacre.

    • Aye. And there’s the small matter of the British releasing and arming the Nazi collaborators in post-occupation Greece when the Greeks didn’t want to follow the path the Western powers had laid out for them. The RAF flew bombing missions in support of the (ex) Nazis when requested.

      • Alan says:

        We’ve had all sorts of bizarre celebrations this year: Agincourt, Waterloo, Magna Carta. Most of these seem to be about giving ancient events some questionable meaning in support of the present order of things. The Peterloo anniversary is coming up in 2019. It will be interesting to see what sort of celebration it receives, if any, and how it compares to the celebration of its ironic namesake, the Battle of Waterloo. One could make a good case that we are still living with many of the concerns of the Peterloo demonstrators, poor economic conditions and the need for parliamentary reform, as well as the aftermath, a police state cracking down on civil liberties and the press.

  39. A Meringue says:

    I havnt worn a poppy for a few years now. I also welcome it when I am “pulled up” by the poppy police. There again it helps that I served in the British Army for sixteen years and served in W. Germany, W. Berlin, Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands. It gives me the chance to tell them where to shove their poppy and give them an right ear-bashing. I also like to point out that their annual jamboree in The Albert Hall is sponsored by major weapons manufacturers. So what does that tell you?


  40. AP says:

    Each to their own. People don’t not donate to Shelter because Governments haven’t done enough for the homeless, medical charities don’t lose out on donations because there are insufficient budgets for their research and similarly I won’t stop donating to Poppy Scotland because the care for veterans isn’t what it could be.

    In my mind I’m wearing a Poppy in respect to those who have served and fallen. My donations to Poppy Scotland beyond that are to help those who remain. Naive as that may be, it’s that simple and basic a level for me. There is much to ponder in the piece. A lot that I can’t disagree with but ultimately the whys and why not’s and politics of it all at a higher level simply don’t come into it.

  41. kiltedgreen says:

    Wow – powerful, heartfelt and clear. Great piece.

  42. Liz S says:

    To make an assumption that people who do not wear a poppy are being disrespectful is being very presumptuous .

    It is also worth remembering that those who were conscientious objectors were chastised also.

    No decent human being cannot feel anything but sadness for those who lost their lives in the many wars , however one must also remember that not all wars are justified and to choose not to wear a poppy does not equate to an individual caring less than those wear poppies .

    We live in a country where so called freedom of speech and expression is tolerated and welcomed so there should also be the option for those to support those, who died in wars, in their own way, whether through donating money to respective charities or in silent prayer and thoughts for those who sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice, that is their lives.

  43. Kieran Cunningham says:


  44. Guga says:

    Well WGD, I was a bit taken aback when I started to read your article. However, as I read through it, and thought about what you were saying, I realized that what you were stating was the unadulterated truth. Poppy day is no longer used as an opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by those that were killed and maimed in wars, but, rather, it is being used as a form of propaganda to support the English government in indulging in a series of illegal wars to allow them to pretend that they can sit at the “top table” with the “big boys”. They like to pretend that the Empire and the Raj is still alive and well but, in fact, they are acting as tame poodles for their American masters.

    Of all the wars that have been fought since we were occupied, annexed and colonized by the English, they only one that was a necessity was the Second World War. The remainder were a total waste of Scottish lives (I don’t care whether the English governments wants to slaughter their own people, now or in the future). My father was badly wounded in Mesopotamia and again at the Dardanelles, and my Maternal grandfather was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. I have had other relations killed in the Boer War and in the Crimean War. All these wars were for the benefit of warmongers, profiteers and the Raj mentality of the English government.

    To avoid Scotland being embroiled in further unnecessary and illegal wars, the Scottish government must, when we regain our independence, give the Scottish people a referendum on membership of NATO (North American Terrorist Organization). We do not want any Scottish government leaders joining the ranks of war criminals such as Bliar and his Cabinet and Cameron and his Cabinet.

  45. Andy Jadeja says:

    White is always the Right choice

  46. perthhistory says:

    I agree with your sentiment, but I don’t see how you telling people to wear a white one is any different to other people telling you to wear a red one?

  47. lottydawson says:

    What a beautifully written truth. Nodding along to everything I read here.

  48. This is so true. But not only do poppies glorify the military, they also try to make us the opponents we used to be in WWI and WWII and so many other wars. People in Germany wear blue flowers to remember their dead. Now why should anybody make a difference in their mourning over soldiers and civilians of different nations? We need to remember the wars and the suffering they caused in oder to prevent future wars, not in order to remember that we used to be enemies. By wearing different colours of flowers based on our nationality we fail to admitt that being enemies was wrong, that war is always wrong and will always be wrong.

  49. Safari Girl says:

    Interesting article. I have incredibly mixed feelings when it comes to poppies. My paternal grandfather fought for the British in Burma as part of the conscripted Kings African Rifles. On the other hand my mother has horrible stories to tell of the Johnnies in Kenya during the Emergency in Kenya. Every side has two stories.

  50. Safari Girl says:

    Interesting article. I have incredibly mixed feelings when it comes to poppies. My paternal grandfather fought for the British in Burma as part of the conscripted Kings African Rifles. On the other hand my mother has horrible stories to tell of Johnnies (British soldiers) in Kenya during the Emergency in Kenya. Every side has two stories, or even a multiplicity of stories and truths and your article so rightly points that out. At the end of the day, war will never be right, no matter who the so called victor is.

  51. Riyan says:

    Powerful post. Inspiring!

  52. Steve says:

    Looking forward to reading the book after discovering you!

  53. Pura Ilusión by Adelina says:

    I totally agree with you

  54. hiro812 says:

    White is always the Right choice

  55. writegill says:

    It doesn’t really matter – remember those men who died for old men’s lies by whatever means are commonly understood. Let them not be forgotten just to make a point

  56. haddyjeng says:

    This post has been elegantly crafted. I really appreciate the fact that you managed to discuss a delicate issue with sincerity. Thank you for an interesting read!

  57. LaurenKate says:

    Probably one of the most compelling things I have ever read, and written so beautifully.

    As someone who whole heartedly wears a poppy every year in my memory of my grandad who was in the navy, you have really hit the nail on the head in a different light.

    I campaign for the white poppy movement!

  58. evalyxn says:

    what is all this poppy business about? whenever i leave college for shopping in the town centre im practically bombarded with questions why im not wearing the darn poppy. and where can i purchase a white one?

  59. mememe2u says:

    I couldn’t agree more.
    Brilliant piece, and hopefully a growing discording voice in a confusion of braying uniformity.

  60. chris holme says:

    Well said indeed, weegingerdug!

  61. I very much agree – it is the death of a human’s uniqueness that is most tragic. Very eloquently put.

  62. roopost says:

    Your view is misguided, tainted perhaps by the casual disregard with which most apply to the use of men and women in war. Poppies are not symbols of peace. That is true. They are symbols of remembrance. The “white” poppy is a symbol of protest. Fair enough. It has no place however mixed in with the remembrance of sacrifice which is the point of the poppy. Poppies are not about war. They aren’t symbols of cause. They are symbolic of remembrance. https://roopost.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/remembrance-day-and-the-wearing-of-the-poppy/. Mr Fisk’s view and yours are, I’m afraid out of touch with the real meaning of this day. While I certainly encourage your appreciation for peace, it is the understanding of remembrance that is wanting.

    • Surely remembrance of the dead is the entire point of the poppy. I choose to wear a white poppy because I wish to remember all dead in all wars, combatants and non-combatants caught in the crossfire or deliberately targeted. Yet you have chosen to denigrate my remembrance as somehow lesser than yours. That is how your comment reads to me.
      As for ‘our’ alleged casual disregard for the use of men and women in war, perhaps that judgemental standpoint would be better directed those who created the conditions for the wars in which, for their private profit, these human beings were sacrificed as pawns in a game those financiers probably found and continue to find entertaining.
      Remembrance is about remembering those who’s lives were taken early in these ‘games’, it is not about conforming with a set of ideas created and promulgated by the establishment.
      I will remember those people in the way I choose regardless of the patronising and judgemental.

      • roopost says:

        Please, continue to do so…(wear your white poppy) on any day but the 11th. It seems to me your reason is one step from condemning the people you purport to honour. It is the very point of Remembrance Day that the “conditions” of loss are less important if not important at all to the sacrifice. While many might espouse the notion of freedom today being purchased by those fallen, I see the sacrifice alone. It is up to the individual to determine whether or not they include the perceived “enemy” in the moment of silence,or contemplate the fallen at Agincourt with their remembrance of Vimy Ridge or the Battle of the Bulge. Anyway, it was your point was it not – to not wear the “Red” poppy…seems somewhat patronizing and judgmental as well. I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  63. hiro812 says:

    Well said indeed, weegingerdug!

  64. I agree it’s good to show your respect but if you don’t wear a poppy your not practically a member of Isis ! I just think that’s really rude to suggest that because your creating a division in society !

  65. However you have expressed what nobody could and I admire that however I still disagree about you saying things about isis

  66. We have a national day of mourning for the victims of both World Wars in Germany, and the village in which I grew up in has a large Monolith with the names of our fallen etched into it. The only uniforms to be seen that day are on the Volunteer Fire Brigade, who organize the ceremony and maintain the site. Maybe we are so anti-militaristic because we started – and lost – both of them

    • That’s how it should be, Nico. Germany has made the most terrible mistakes and then grown up. Here, our rulers still celebrate militarism. As my life plods on along its ever wearier course, the more I see the British Establishment as a strange, dreary grey death cult. There was a brief period of realism in the 1970s but Thatcher took care of that when she signed us up to the Neocon Crusades.

  67. Mary Tang says:

    You said, “We remember the dead as soldiers, not as human beings. ” and you used the word ‘human’ and ‘humanity’ in your article far too often. Don’t you know that a soldier cannot be a human being and be an effective soldier at the same time? It’s a case of KILL or BE KILLED. Can a human being kill without thought or consideration? Without the conditioning of their training to leave any trace of humanity behind, they would become ineffective and possibly be killed. So remembering those dead soldiers is remembering those who were human enough to die. They are finally human when they die. It’s my way of making sense of the red poppy.

  68. eemeh says:

    Reblogged this on Eemehblog.

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