Yesterday, Sunday 08th Nov 2015 was remembrance Sunday. A day that is earmarked to remember all those that have been affected by war. As a mark of support for remembrance, many people don the famous red poppy. However, I can’t help but feel that the remembrance poppy has mutated into a very different beast from what The Royal British Legion originally intended. Thanks to the narrow-minded masses we have amongst our ranks, here in Britain.
Why aren’t you wearing a poppy?!
As a British Army veteran of both Iraq & Afghanistan myself, I personally wear a poppy every year. But just because I do, doesn’t mean everyone else has to. Maybe you don’t agree with war (there’s also the lesser known White Poppy Appeal), maybe you feel that the red poppy doesn’t have the same connotations as it once did. Or may you simply don’t want to feel forced into wearing a poppy when you support other charities. For me personally, any or all of the above is fine. Actually, no. It’s more than fine. It’s your right.
Anyone else see the irony in that statement? You see, the poppy exists to not only remember those that we have lost, but it also signifies the freedoms that we have, thanks to the many soldiers (and civilians – people always forget to mention the MANY civilians) who gave their lives. People are free to wear their poppy, but people are also free to NOT wear a poppy if they so choose. So, if we’re free to do what we like, why do those who choose not to wear a poppy become branded a traitor?
On TV? Here’s your poppy…
The BBC don’t allow anyone on their channels to wear any charitable symbol, other than the poppy. Why? Who are they to say that one charity is more important (and therefore requiring more coverage) than another? Yes, I’m an ex-serviceman. Yes I’ve lost friends. Yes, my father passed away from cancer. Oh, wait. That doesn’t work. Why don’t we see ribbons on the BBC? Is remembering our dead from war, more important than remembering our dead (and survivors) of cancer? I think not.
Jeremy Corbyn has come under scrutiny on more than one occasion for his views on war. As a pacifist, I would have thought he would have been wearing a white poppy (if at all) during Sunday’s ceremony. But had he not been wearing a poppy, or if it was white, you can guarantee that there would have been public outcry about it. But why? It’s not what he is (or isn’t) wearing that’s important. He’s there paying his respects, that’s what is important.
Irish footballer, James McClean is another example. He flat out refuses to wear a poppy, saying:
“If the poppy was simply about World War One and Two victims alone, I’d wear it without a problem.”
“I would wear it every day of the year if that was the thing but it doesn’t it stands for all conflicts that Britain has been involved in. Because of the history of where I come from in Derry, I cannot wear something that represents that.”
He is, of course, referring to Bloody Sunday. Were British Soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians, 14 of whom died. So again, just as we have a right to wear a poppy, James has the right to not wear one without being criticised for it.
Red Poppy Fascism
People simply need to step down from their soapboxes and keep their opinionated, bigoted remarks to themselves. Just because some people don’t literally wear a badge of honor to say that they remember (how could they forget?) doesn’t mean that they deserve a slew of abuse, or that they are disrespecting anything that the poppy stands for; and they certainly aren’t traitors!
Red poppy fascism is a big problem, one that really needs to stop. So to the red poppy fascists, I say – get a grip! You have no right to tell people what they should, or shouldn’t wear. It doesn’t matter how, when, or even if you wear a poppy. What matters is that if you do wear one, you wear it with pride. But more importantly, you respect others’ opinions.
Right then, I’ll step down from my soapbox now…