White Poppy, Not with Pride.
I shall not be wearing my poppy with pride this week. It will be worn with a degree of solemnity, and anger. And it shall be white.
The 11th hour of the 11th day, on the 11th month, will mark another anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War 1. This was a truly dreadful war, a war that should never have happened, that took the lives of millions, touching quite possibly every single family in Europe. When I see a poppy, I think of Flanders Field, or the Somme. Total slaughter, needless and disgusting. Born, not from the need to preserve freedom or country, but to preserve the wealth and power of the few. Millions, mere pawns to be sacrificed.
We need to remember, so that we don’t fall for it again, and again, and again.
An example of concern amongst the wider public was shown by a letter in the Evesham Advertiser in November 1930, which responded to a remark by the Bishop of Durham that Armistice Day celebrations should cease: ‘…their main tendency is to perpetuate the war spirit, which ever renders the coming of permanent peace impossible. The establishment of this day and the erection of memorials was a grave error…for these have fastened the system of armed defence upon one and all firmer than ever; for right through Europe…the man who has borne arms is memorialised and praised as never before and what man praises today he will practise tomorrow so that to honour war is, of necessity, to ensure its coming in all its horrors…It is the living we should consider first; we should remember the young amongst us, whose bodies…will lie out upon the battlefields of Europe in ‘the next war’ which is said to be coming, and for which the Armistice Day celebrations and the memorials are simply paving the way. They are the sign and symbol that war shall be, and prevent altogether the dawning of that brighter and better day when war shall be no more.’Members of the 1929-31 Labour Government were also unhappy about the ceremony. Alfred Salter MP recalled in 1936: ‘I was Chairman of the Parliamentary Peace Committee, and took a deputation to see the then Minister of War. We asked him if he would exercise his influence…to turn the November 11 Armistice service into a peace and memorial service…His official adviser from the War Office jumped up and said, “Impossible! Unthinkable! It would be opposed by the highest authorities!…We get more recruits for the Army in the fortnight following the Armistice ceremony than in any other time of the year.”‘
In 1931, however, the Daily Herald headlined ‘The Empire’s Armistice Call: There shall be no more war’, and went on, ‘Never again! That will be the vow in every sane mind throughout the British Empire today.’ Hannen Swaffer asked: ‘Now that Economy has come, will they really cut down those health services…Why don’t we do something to stop the next war?’ Two years later the first recorded alternative wreath was laid at Cambridge War Memorial, by the Cambridge Student Anti-War Movement, with the inscription: ‘To the dead and wounded of all nations, victims of a war they did not make, from those who are determined to prevent all similar crimes of imperialism.’
~ by blacksheepdiarist on November 7, 2006.
Posted in Activism, Debate, Disarmament, guns, history, Love, peace, protest, war
Tags: , 2006, Armistice Day, british legion, conscience, dead, Flanders, gun, imperialism, Labour, military, never again, poppy, progress, red, remembrance, revolution, socialism, Somme, white, white poppy, World War 1, wounded