Monday, November 13, 2006

Wear your poppy with pride ?

I saw this letter in thelondonpaper this evening:

" I was disgusted by the behaviour of some people during the two minutes of Remembrance. I was in Sainsbury's (a big UK supermarket) in Vauxhall. When the store announced the two minutes' slisence everyone fell silent. This lasted for about ten seconds when a fellow bawled at his wife "What ? I'm not not stopping, I weren't in the war". People looked in disbelief. An elderly gentleman walked towards the toothpaste and said loudly "I've done my bit, and I ain't standing around now" And then a girl in a tracksuit walked past talking on her mobile "Everyone's glaring at me 'coz I'm talkling to you on the phone during the two minute's silence. Who cares 'bout that?" Shame on you all. Your lack of self respect, your selfishness and insensitivity are truly repellent on an important day of remembrance. If you're reading this, be aware that many Britons gave up their lives so you could live in harmony today" Nicholas Havers, Vauxhall

Sadly, this account is all too believable. This year a bit of a divide has opened up between those who wear poppies (the symbol of remembrance Britain adopted from the flower that grew so widely on the battle fields of France and Flanders in WW1) and those who don't. Some have argued the poppy is a white establishment symbol.

This is sad and misguided. The Poppy is for everyone and it is to remember all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice whether from Britain, its former colonies or for that matter anyone who died in battle.

Battles of the past were fought to give us the freedom of today. Sometimes it seems doubtful if such sacrifice could be made by today's generation coming from a society that is both more divided and more selfish than in the past. I hope this point does not need to be proved.

When a few selfish or maybe just ignorant shoppers were creating noise during the national 2 minutes silence in Vauxhall yesterday, 4 British soldiers were killed in Iraq.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of that conflict they did not start it. They were sent there by our leaders and daily strive to bring some order to that land. For doing such a brave job in such difficult circumstances they deserve our support. For those who perished yesterday and in earlier, more clear cut conflicts we should remember them.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.


James said...

I'm pleased to say the silence (albeit only one minute I think) was pretty well observed at the England v Argentina rubgy international on Saturday (despite the potential for dispute over one of the diplomatically named 'more recent conflicts'!)


SimonHolyHoses said...

It's such a distant memory isn't it. Most young people won't even know what it is about. Even in my own youth I remember not being particularly respectful of it.

I'm still working my way through the BBC Great War DVDs (seven of them in all each containing about four one hour episodes).

My peers were fed a diet of poetry in relation to it. We got a bit of a lopsided, albeit valid, perception of it. To be honest I thought that Wilfred Owen was cool. It was an eighties spin: "war is bad and protest and dissent is good."

What I never understood was the sheer magnitude of the war, the real depth of the pity, and the politics of it - why it happened, the positive things that came about as a result of it, and how close we came at times to losing.

I've also seen the graves of boys in Germany and Austria - and every enemy soldier brought down was some mother's son or daughter.

It is all terribly terribly sad, and certainly without those people the world would be different now. Probably worse.

I don't think children care about any of that though. They've been taught different values.

Luis said...

James- good to hear values remain at rugby matches.

Simon- I think you're right. The history was terrible albeit with some positive results.

It is a different world today and the value of "sacrifice" is not recognised by many.

I do however think that a trip to the war graves in France or elsewhere is a humbling experience and one that should be encouraged for children.