Every year as we edge ever closer to 11th November, without fail, that debate rears its head. That debate of course being: what does wearing a poppy actually mean?
Quite frankly, it’s a debate that makes me despair. What critical social commentators signally fail to understand is that their very right to speak out against a way of thinking, a government and its decisions, its people and their actions, was won by those people whom we stand silently to remember on the 11th.
The red poppy is not a warmongering symbol but is instead a dignified nod from many of us that proudly wear it, to say thank you, for sacrifices made by others for our freedom today. We won’t forget.
Remembrance Sunday is not the day to debate the morals of war, the acts of war or to remonstrate with the individuals that engaged our country in war. Those conversations can be had on any of the other 364 days of the year.
Yesterday I attended two church services in Kent, the first in the parish of Leybourne, and second at West Malling. Whilst I have been to many of the wreath laying services across the country, before yesterday I hadn’t been to a church service. I was struck by two things. Firstly, both services were fantastically well attended, standing room only.
There was an atmosphere of great unity within the churches, that of an unspoken understanding that somehow, each of us were connected in some way to the wars that have passed, and those that our country still fights. Secondly, the congregations were a made up of a lovely mixture of young and old.
Later on in the afternoon when I was scrolling through my facebook newsfeed, every other post was that of friends attending different services across the country. Yesterday I certainly felt a great deal of pride: in our armed forces, in our country which commemorates them with such dignity, but most of all in our communities who gathered together to pay their respects to those men and women who never came home.
We will remember them.