For the last couple of years, around the time of Remembrance Day, I write a post to mark the occasion. Last year was a story about stories. The year before that, I linked to a story, a single, solitary moment in the life of a soldier. One of my favourite posts to date, even if not the most popular.
This year, I apologise, but I want to raise a point that bothers me.
Despite being thousands of miles now from the UK, we can still watch British television programmes. For the past few weeks, TV hosts, guests, audiences, even bit-part players in so-called reality or talent shows, have appeared with a poppy attached to their clothing. Anyone likely to appear in-shot is also given one to wear. I know for a fact that most of them do not buy the poppies, but are just presented with them in order to ensure that they appear suitably attired.
To my mind, this not only belittles the poppy, but also defeats at least half of its purpose.
The poppy is worn as a reminder. A reminder of those who fell in battle, those who never grew old, those who never returned home to their loved ones. But it is also a fundraiser. Selling poppies is by far the largest revenue generator for the Royal British Legion, a charity that supports those still serving, the ones who came home injured, as well as the families of those who never came home at all.
Seeing sparkly, show-biz poppies doesn't achieve the desired effect, in fact, it misses the point completely. The poppy isn't a piece of jewelry, it isn't a fashion accessory, it isn't a part of a costume. The poppy is a mark of respect, a symbol of hope as well as remembrance.
Tomorrow, as many millions around the world pause to reflect and remember at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, I will join them. I will wear a poppy. Not because I've been told to do it, or because it looks good on what I'm wearing, but as a simple symbol of respect to those who have served as well as those who continue to do so.