December 8, 2019

The Editor speaks: Now the red poppy we wear is controversial

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Colin Wilson

There is something very wrong in this world when a single red artificial poppy that has stood as a mark of respect for all those who have lost their lives fighting on behalf of their country, and to raise money for those whose lives have been affected by war, is now controversial.

The arguments against wearing a red poppy is so ridiculous I throw my hands up in the air and cry out in utter despair.

These are the reasons the BBC have reported:

“Some people feel the red poppy has become too political, and that some politicians have used the powerful feelings it creates to justify war.”

“Others refuse to wear poppies because they feel there is too much pressure put on people to wear them.”

In 2018, Man United midfielder Nemanja Matic explained why he wouldn’t wear a poppy.

He says it’s because it reminds him of when his Serbian village was attacked by the NATO forces – which includes those from the UK and the US – when he was 12.

“I recognise fully why people wear poppies, I totally respect everyone’s right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict.

“However, for me it is only a reminder of an attack that I felt personally as a young, frightened 12-year-old boy living in Vrelo, as my country was devastated by the bombing of Serbia in 1999.”

“Whilst I have done so previously, on reflection I now don’t feel it is right for me to wear the poppy on my shirt. I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone. However, we are all a product of our own upbringing and this is a personal choice for the reasons outlined,” he said.

Prominent Canadian ice hockey commentator Don Cherry has been fired for making controversial comments on new immigrants and Remembrance Day poppies.

Cherry complained on-air this weekend that he rarely sees people he believes to be newcomers wearing the symbol.

His remarks prompted widespread condemnation from the hockey world.

Cherry singled out Toronto immigrants for not wearing poppies. “At least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy,” he said.

All of this controversy against a very simple reason why w wear a poppy close to and including Remembrance Day,

Poppies are used to remember those who have given their lives in battle because they are the flowers which grew on the battlefields after World War One ended.

This is described in the famous World War One poem “In Flanders Fields”.

Ever since then, they have come to be a symbol of remembering not just those who gave their lives in World War One, but all those who have died on behalf of their country.

Poem “In Flanders Fields” By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

END

For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds … And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way.

— McCrae

Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres. The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance at an Advanced Dressing Station outside Ypres. This location is today known as the John McCrae Memorial Site.

The Royal British Legion says: “We only ask you to wear it with pride.”

But now that red poppy we wear is controversial?

God help us all!!!

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