On Sunday we commemorate Remembrance Day. This is the day where we remember soldiers who have died in the line of service fighting for this country. One of the ways that we do this is through the wearing of a poppy. Poppies have been used since 1921 and are distributed by the British Legion with the proceeds raised going to current and former British military personnel. They serve as a visual reminder of the sacrifices of our armed forces and are an important reminder of all that we owe them. For this reason it is very rare to see any figure within the public spotlight without a poppy at this time of the year.
However support for the poppy and what it represents is by no means universal. In Northern Ireland especially amongst Catholics the poppy is hugely controversial. They remember the past actions of the British army and are keen to show their opposition. The footballer James McClean is one prominent figure who takes this stance. Other opponents believe the poppy is a symbol which is used to justify and glorify current wars, and that this is not acceptable.
The British Army throughout recent history have not always acted honourably and there are prominent examples of misbehaviour and bad conduct. However this behaviour has largely been the exception rather than the rule and public apologies have been made for this misconduct. To those who have been particularly close to these events, this behaviour may seem unforgiveable and therefore their refusal to wear a poppy is perfectly acceptable.
The wearing of a poppy still remains an individual choice and this must always be the case. I like many will choose to wear a poppy, but there will be some who don’t. At this time of year in particular we should fully appreciate the importance of having this freedom. The wars our soldiers have fought throughout history have been specifically for freedom of this sort. The society that we now live in where people are free to air their opinions and show their opposition is down in no small part to what our soldiers have previously achieved. This freedom is beneficial to all and should be remembered before we castigate too loudly those who choose not to wear a poppy.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – Daily Mirror