David Brider (davidbrider) wrote,
David Brider

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Keeping it brief...

I've never (well, for as long as I can remember - at least the last 25 years) been comfortable with the red poppies as given out to donators by the Royal British Legion, nor indeed with Remembrance Day as a whole. As a pacifist, I strongly believe that taking human life is wrong, and therefore, for me, it seems wrong to wear a symbol that speaks of respect for people who have done exactly that - taken human life. Whilst other people view the British armed forces as brave and heroic people who suffered and sometimes died in war, for me there's always a little nagging voice - what about their victims, the people they killed and wounded, and the people who were left behind to mourn their passing?

As a result of these thoughts, I don't honestly feel that it would be right for me to contribute to the Royal British Legion fund, nor to wear a red poppy, so I'm very much afraid that I don't.

For all I know, you may agree with me about this. Most likely, you disagree with me - if so, I hope you're not in any way offended by my position. You may not feel comfortable wearing a red poppy for entirely different reasons to mine. However, whatever your beliefs and feelings on the matter, could I encourage you to consider - either as well as, or insted of, the red poppy - wearing a white poppy as distributed by the Peace Pledge Union? When I first learned of the Peace Pledge Union, although I didn't 100% agree with the message they were trying to convey with the white poppies, I found the inclusivism (remembering civilian as well as military victims on all sides of conflicts, not just the British and their allies) to be something I could more fully support than the Royal British Legion's appeal. I've worn a white poppy every year around this time of year since then, and often for longer.

From the PPU's website:

The idea of decoupling Armistice Day, the red poppy and later Remembrance Day from their military culture dates back to 1926, just a few years after the British Legion was persuaded to try using the red poppy as a fundraising tool in Britain.

A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint 'No More War' in the centre of the red poppies instead of ‘Haig Fund’ and failing this pacifists should make their own flowers.

The details of any discussion with the British Legion are unknown but as the centre of the red poppy displayed the ‘Haig Fund’ imprint until 1994 it was clearly not successful. A few years later the idea was again discussed by the Co-operative Women's Guild who in 1933 produced the first white poppies to be worn on Armistice Day (later called Remembrance Day). The Guild stressed that the white poppy was not intended as an insult to those who died in the First World War - a war in which many of the women lost husbands, brothers, sons and lovers. The following year the newly founded Peace Pledge Union joined the CWG in the distribution of the poppies and later took over their annual promotion.


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