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161104-remembrance-poppies

There was discussion of the Remembrance poppy on the BBC’s Question Time yesterday, including from one audience member who didn’t realise it is worn to commemorate all our war dead, right up to the present day.

The debate was about FIFA banning footballers from wearing poppies on November 11 (the organisation does not allow players to wear political, religious or commercial messages on their shirts). The comments quoted below are by 90+ year old pro-NHS campaigner and political commentator Harry Leslie Smith, who won’t be wearing a poppy either because he suspects politicians of subverting their message.

It seems there are a lot of misconceptions going around, and very few people willing to put them to rest.

This Writer won’t stop wearing a poppy in the near future. But I don’t want to see it used as a justification for further warfare either – that is the exact opposite of its purpose.

And I think that is the answer.

Perhaps it is time to start questioning politicians when they start sabre-rattling. Let’s call them out on their action. Do they wear poppies in the run-up to November 11? Then why agitate for further military action?

Don’t they know they’re disrespecting our honoured dead?

Perhaps that might engender a swift shift of rhetoric.

I can no longer wear a poppy because its meaning of respect for the fallen and the motto “never again” on the First World War memorial has been profaned by our wars to maintain our empire after the fall of Hitler, and our modern conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

I feel now that wearing the poppy gives a blank cheque to our politicians to justify their folly in wars of questionable merit, as well as the needless deaths their sanguine votes for boots on the ground costs both our soldiers and innocent civilians in foreign countries.

Wearing the poppy today lets our politicians off the hook for their symbiotic relationship to the arms industry and their criminal disregard for the refugee crisis.

We have lost our right to collectively mourn our war dead if we are unwilling to at least investigate the notion that our military industrial complex might not have our country’s best interests at heart when they sell bombs to tyrants.

It is why the insistence of certain media outlets to name and shame those who don’t wear the poppy is not only reprehensible, but jingoistic, and will ultimately help lead us into conflicts that will threaten the lives of thousands of our young like the First Great War did.

Source: Remembrance Day: Why I stopped wearing a poppy

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