The red poppy, or the remembrance poppy, has been used since 1921 to commemorate soldiers who died during the war. Today, it is a prominent symbol in the UK, being worn up to and on Remembrance Day on November 11th as a sign of respect to the people who fought and died for us.
By and large, I don’t have a problem with this. I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone involved in fighting to defend our nation and protecting their families. The problem I have is that I don’t agree with war. Endless amounts of money are poured into personnel, into the distribution of weapons, and for what? Destruction, turmoil and the loss of innocent lives. It’s not something I want to support, and while I understand that this isn’t what the poppy represents, it enrages me that it seems to have become an unwritten rule that everyone should have to wear one, especially celebrities or anyone within the public eye, regardless of what their opinions of the matter is.
So, instead, I choose to wear a white poppy.
The white poppy is worn as a symbol of peace. Run by The Peace Pledge Union, its intention is to renounce war, to not support any kind of war, and to work for the removal of all causes of war, and essentially resolve all conflict with non-violence. The white poppy also remembers civilians who died during the war, innocent people who were caught in the crossfire, and families who were left bereft by the death of their loved ones, soldiers or otherwise. While you may be wondering, ‘Wait, doesn’t the red poppy do that?’, you’d be surprised to find that that’s not actually the stated purpose of who produces the red poppy.
If you go to The Royal British Legion’s website, specifically the ‘What We Remember’ link, you are met with this somewhat blunt statement: ‘The Legion advocates a specific type of Remembrance connected to the British Armed Forces, those who were killed, those who fought with them and alongside them.’ Now, I’m not saying it’s not their right to adopt such a position of selective remembrance, but it’s not something I want to be a part of. And I’m not criticising the Legion in general – over the years they have done outstanding work supporting the veterans of our military service, particularly ones in ill health due to mental issues, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that their stance isn’t anything close to politically neutral.
There are some that say that wearing a white poppy in lieu of a red one is disrespectful. This is, of course, ridiculous. This also isn’t to say that everyone who chooses to wear a red poppy is ‘glorifying war’, or any other such nonsense. Your views may or may not coincide with others, but they are your own, and you choose to remember or commemorate in the way that you decide to. There is even a purple poppy available for people who choose to remember animals who died during the war – it’s all about remembering everyone.
The most important thing to take from it all, however, is this: whatever poppy you choose, however you choose to wear it, and whoever you’re wearing it for, wear it with pride. And remember, it wasn’t just soldiers who died for us. Remember everyone.
If you would like to buy a white poppy, visit The Peace Pledge Union’s shop here.