Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Talks: Should we wear the poppy?

From Brexit to Donald Trump’s outbursts on Twitter, it would appear that everything these days is shrouded in controversy, with not even the simple and delicate paper poppy being spared.

News outlets, national and regional, have articles defending, questioning and rejecting the use of the poppy, with every story attaching a different meaning to the resilient flower which blew in Flanders field.

So the question remains, should we wear the poppy and what does it represent?

Some believe politicians have used the poppy to lobby support for current and recent conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Conflicts they morally disagree with.

They reject the actions being carried out by current British forces and as the poppy has come to remember the death and sacrifice made by those in not only World War One, but in all British conflicts, some see the poppy being used as a justification for more recent wars.

Harry Leslie Smith, a 92-year-old war veteran, holds this view stating that the poppy has been hijacked by “latter day politicians to sell dubious wars”.

But at its conception the poppy was meant to inspire remembrance, not war, hence the term ‘lest we forget’. Those three words are almost inseparable from the poppy, and evoke an emotion which sums up the tragedy and devastation of war.

This is certainly the view of International Bomber Command Centre director Nicky Barr who said that the poppy is a symbol used to commemorate sacrifice and not to glamourise war, as some people have suggested.

However, so-called “poppy disillusionment” does appear to be on the rise. Reports earlier this month indicate that one in three Brits under the age of 25 will most likely not wear a poppy on Armistice Day.

Many abandoning the poppy did she because they felt bullied into wearing one.

In almost a protest to the traditional red poppy, institutions such as the Peace Pledge Union offer a white version as an alternative.

Lincolnshire Reporter found a wide range of views on what the poppy represents when we spoke to people on Lincoln High Street.

Joanna Pass said that wearing the poppy for her demonstrated “support for all of those involved in British conflicts, past and present”.

This was in contrast with James Ridley, who said: “Personally to me it just symbolises the remembrance of those who died in World War One.”

Another passer-by who wished to remain anonymous said that he wore the poppy in order to directly support the Royal British Legion and their work helping ex-servicemen and women.

Perhaps then from the disagreements locally and nationally, the poppy really represents us remembering those who fought for our ability to make you own choices, engage in discussions and express our own opinions. Even if they infuriate you.

Lest we forget.


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