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Thursday, 11 November 2010


Today is Remembrance Day. I think it's important. If you've ever been to Tyne Cot, Passchendale, Ypres or the Somme you can't help but be moved by the horror and unnecessary carnage of the First World War, and the selflessness of the millions of ordinary men who did their bit. At Victoria Station in Manchester there's a door which doesn't go anywhere now, but used to lead to a southbound platform. Above the door is a plaque which reads 'Dedicated to the thousands of men who passed through this door 1914-1918 and who did not return', which never fails to catch my eye,and tug a little. Remembrance Day and the selling of poppies started in 1919, as a way to mark the lives of the fallen, help the families left behind and to work for peace, to ensure such a conflict wouldn't happen again. Not that that last bit worked. I'm not comfortable with the way recently poppies and Remembrance Day seem to be an attempt to justify current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is the traditional 19th century song The Bold Fusilier, a recruitment song, sung by Billy Childish acapella at a radio session a few years ago.



dickvandyke said...

Lovely post SA, and a wonderful photograph.

I'll pop over to Drew's and say the same ...

I'm deeply saddened by what you report about poppies and Remembrance Day seen as 'an attempt to justify current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan'.

I must say that hasn't been my experience of ordinary folk. I have been out on a poppy stall this November. (I have worn my medals for the 1st time in my life - and I'm still somewhat uncomfortable about that). The word 'hero' is certainly over used these days. I wasn't particularly brave in the literal sense; just hard-working, trustworthy and loyal.

I've been so heartened by the huge number of people who stop by to make a donation, or just chat. Dont get me wrong, I certainly haven't made it a social experiment, but I have been taken by the large cross-section of society to whom wearing a poppy is clearly a priority.

Old ones, sure ... but also the young. Skinheads, punks, students, left wing, right wing, blacks, asians .. and yes, even Muslims! Of course I was happy to see them all. And why not?

I think it's the number of youngsters coming up to me that thrilled me the most. A beautiful 6year old girl came up to me and said, "My name is Poppy. Can I have a poppy and a hug please mister?"

swiss adam said...

Great comment DVD, thanks for taking the time, and glad you are able to disagree with me. I was at a small schools ceremony today at 11.00, with a couple of veterans attending (one from D Day), and the last post was played just before the silence. It was very moving.