06 November 2013

White Poppies: A Remembrance Day Controversy


I don’t like the white poppy.

I didn’t like it when I was still studying at the U of A and a group there tried to give me one telling me that my poppy symbolised the glorification of war. I told them that my red poppy symbolised the sacrifice that my grandfather gave fighting in WW2; it symbolised the sacrifice that all the soldiers fighting gave and that for many of them it was their life.

Thankfully, my grandfather didn’t die, but I refuse to believe that anyone who’s fought in a war doesn’t sacrifice something of themselves. Ask any of our recent veterans that come home with PTSD if they haven’t sacrifices something; ask the families of our soldiers if they haven't noticed a changed in the person they once knew.

I didn't like the white poppy yesterday when a captain at work talked to me about how disrespectful it was to the veterans and those currently in the forces today. And it is disrespectful. But not because of the idea behind it, but the attitudes of the people touting the white poppy and their seemingly blatant disregard for history and people.


What is it about?
The white poppy is supposed to symbolise the idea that the person wearing it remembers for peace - the slogan is "I Remember for Peace". (I found many of the comments to be full of loaded language and rather disrespectful.) It's a very pretty idea, one that I almost can identify with. This is because I think that peaceful solutions to situations are better and that war shouldn't be glorified or celebrated. You can't tell me that most people don't feel that same way, that most people don't agree with those sentiments.


Why is disrespectful?
I think that main reason that the white poppy is disrespectful isn't because of the poppy itself. I find the most disrespectful thing about it is the attitudes of the people pushing it. And they're pushing it - much like religious zealots, with little regard for the people their talking too. Case in point, this year they're going to hand them out at a Remembrance Day ceremony. A place that should be solemn remembrance and introspection will be clouded with political bullshit. Also, it’s the completely wrong location! It's like the Jehovah's Witnesses trying to convert the Mormons. I really don’t think that Dufay thought that one through.

Finally, I also think it's disrespectful because of what they say the poppy stands for - the glorification of war. If you haven't seen this article yet, go read it. I think that Gurney illustrates the points far better than I can. To summarise though, he states that the students in charge of the "I Remember for Peace" campaign haven't really studied their history. This is because the poppy is already a symbol of peace. Peace bough at the price of sacrifice; sacrifice of self, of family, of life.


The Poppy
Peace bough at the price of sacrifice; sacrifice of self, of family, of life.

That is how I've always viewed the poppy and just because I wear one does not mean that I glorify war. I am still relatively young, almost 30, but my grandfather fought in WW2. I went with him and the rest of my immediate family every year the the legion's ceremony. I wear my poppy for him. 

I also wear my poppy in honour of all those that sacrificed in any way, in any war, on any side. For me it is important to make the distinction and remember that it is not the soldier that makes the decision to go to war, but political leaders. I wear my poppy in honour of all soldiers. Just because I may not agree with their point of view does not make their life or their sacrifce any less valuable than those give or made from my point of view.

All life is sacred. All sacrifices should be remembered. That is why I wear my poppy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just to add to my comments on Facebook, I did a little more digging into the "white poppy". Apparently, they're being distributed by Rideau Institute, a
"non-profit advocacy and consulting group".

Their wikipedia page is full of buzzwords and public relations BS.

This only continues to confirm my position that the "White poppies" are a scam.

-Chris

(Not signing in with Google because they like to play buggery with G+ account names)

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