In Flander’s Field, White Poppies Should be Free to Grow

Recently, I’ve heard about this growing movement towards White Poppies being worn leading up to Remembrance Day. It seems most people think it’s a slap in the face of veterans, an insult to what they did and what they sacrificed.

So I Googled White Poppies and discovered this movement isn’t new.

According to Wikipedia, that bastion of truthiness…

“The white poppy is an artificial flower used as a symbol of peace, worn as an alternative to, or complement to, the red poppy for Remembrance Day. Introduced in 1926, a few years after the introduction of the red poppy in the UK, the idea of pacifists making their own poppies was put forward by a member of the No More War Movement. Their intention was to remember casualties of all wars, with the added meaning of a hope for the end of all wars.”

In my opinion, sounds fair. As we remember the sacrifices that all those brave soldiers made, the horrors they witnessed, the friends and loved ones lost, we should also hope that someday, we can live in a world of peace.

But I guess that’s too much to hope for.

It seems many think the white poppy is disrespectful and offensive to veterans, that it bring politics into an event that doesn’t need to be politicized. But there are those that wear the white poppy who think the traditional red poppy glorifies war. As usual, most of the comments come from people who are either politicians, or not soldiers and never served a day in their life.

One 92-year-old veteran summed it up pretty good, “Everybody knows what the poppy symbolizes — remembrance.”

To me, the red poppy is a symbol that we  must never, EVER forget how horrible war is. Ask anyone who was alive then, who remembers how life was. It was a very different world. This wasn’t a war with shadowy purposes, run by men ensuring their power and wealth via the resources of other countries. This was a WORLD war. Everyone was affected. Everyone knew someone who went off to fight, or someone who died.

When the war ended, and those that survived came home, they were never the same. What they saw, what they experienced, although trivialized in today’s war video games, changed them, hardened them, hurt them in ways no one could ever understand. Families were changed along with them. As the world began to understand the gravity of everything that happened, we honored the living and the dead. But most importantly, we had to remember what happened. The red poppy symbolizes what we, as a society, as a civilization, as individuals, have lost. War, all war, regardless of its purpose, is a terrible thing. That is why it is important to remember its cost.

Wars continued to be fought, and will continue to be fought. The weapons get bigger, more powerful, and have begun to remove the humanity from warfare so that all it will be is a push of a button. The human cost of war may be different, changing from soldiers to civilians, but the brutality of it all remains the same.

That is what we have to remember. We have to remember the cost. And those that pay the price are men and women who are made of rarefied stuff. They face the worst of humanity because they belief in their purpose and the cause, even if their government lies to them. They are the best of us. That is the ideal they strive for, even if it costs them their lives.

To me, that is why I wear a red poppy. To remember the sacrifices made, the lives lost, and the tragedy cost of war.

The red poppy does not glorify war! Anyone who thinks that has no fucking clue about the meaning of Remembrance Day (or whatever you call November 11th).

As for those who wear white poppies, since all of those aged veterans fought for the rights and freedoms we all take for granted daily, that also includes the right for people to celebrate the day as they choose. If the white poppy symbolizes peace, and people feel the need to wear it, so be it. That is their right.

But in all honesty, the red poppy says both things. It tells us to remember what came before us, reminds us of the cost, and hopefully spurs us to make the world better, so no more lives have to be lost to war.

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