Tag Archives: British

“For Them, For Now, Forever 11.11.11/11.” The Appeal of the Poppy

For Then, For Now, Forever Day. Armistice day, ninety three years since the close of the War To End All Wars, followed within one generation by the bloodiest century in human history. Until 2001, the kids who serve today were going to be our first generation without a war.

There is an element of controversy over the poppy, especially in places like The University of Sussex; historically a left-liberal activist institution with a proud history of anti-war action and protest. When I was a third year a motion was brought to ban the Armed Forces from Union events and property and I supported it. To wear a poppy in the Union house was a big deal- a statement- but I still wore mine and I’m wearing one this year. Not because I support our wars, I don’t, but because I need to show my respect and my gratitude.

Fellow students at Sussex were surprised, disappointed even, that I chose to wear the poppy, thinking me ignorant or conformist, but I’m neither of those things. The Poppy Appeal is about two things: Remembrance for those lost and Support for those left behind. Both vital. Where I live now, in a conservative (big and little ‘c’) Home Counties commuter town, it goes without saying. A poppy is not a statement here, but I still make a point of wearing mine, even though it will undoubtedly go unnoticed.

It’s been over half a century since the Second World War ended, but I’m grateful every day of my life for the freedoms afforded me as a British Citizen, many as a direct result of victory. For my access to good food, free healthcare and education, for the right to travel, live and work where I please and love who I want, I give thanks. It’s worth taking time every year to remember those rights were hard-won.

As for the present day- I protested against the invasion of Iraq, I petitioned for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan; I don’t think that donating to the British Legion is an endorsement of our current military campaigns. Maybe others see me wearing their symbol and think that’s exactly what it is, but in the real world, as in the microcosm of university, I won’t forgo a small act of remembrance for fear of the assumptions of others. The reason is simple:

A poppy isn’t about politics, it’s about eighteen year old boys with their legs torn off.

It’s about blood, anyone’s blood, needlessly draining into the sand. It’s about men and women who, although at present are occupying forces in sovereign nations, are prepared to risk their limbs and their lives in defence of Britain and her allies. As an organisation, the Military are by no means heroes, but they are, and for a hundred years they have been, individually heroic.

So thank you.

Libya is not the Falklands and this ain’t the Eighties. Shame on you The Sun.

Have you seen this?

The Sun front page "That's For Lockerbie"

I’m disgusted that my people would behave this way. A supposedly civilised nation and we’re gloating and cheering over a man being murdered in the street? It’s fucking barbaric. Maybe the Libyans have got an excuse, a group of men and boys with heated blood and lifetimes of oppression, they couldn’t wait for justice and instead took immediate revenge for their own personal gratification. But that’s not justice and we, as a peaceful (on our own soil anyway), supposedly developed and democratic nation, should know better.

How is an undignified and bloody death vindication for bloody Lockerbie? Even if the imbeciles who prove that the Sun really does originate somewhere in the seat of their trousers feel that this is the appropriate culmination to Gaddafi’s regime, gloating over his death on the front page is frankly disgusting.

Every one of the red tops ran a similar leader, but The Sun surpassed them all in grotesque, childish malice. It wasn’t for Lockerbie anyway, it was for his violent, bloody oppression of his own people for the last four decades. I very much doubt your average Libyan could really give tuppence for a plane full of dead Americans, bombed before they were even born. Avenging a few dozen foreign lives in the face of their own loss and agony would be a gross misplacement of priorities, however significant the PanAm atrocity might still be in the West.

Today I have to say, I am ashamed of my countrymen. This is not the face of Britain I want to show to the world, especially the newly emerging Arab democracies. Can we not set a good example for fuck’s sake? We’ve had long enough to learn.

%d bloggers like this: