I don’t wear poppies, and this image perfectly encapsulates why

Content warning: this post discusses death and war

The Royal British Legion tweeted this image of a fundraising event. Look at it.


In the image, four children aged around twelve stand, holding gigantic plastic poppies. Three of the children wear t-shirts saying “Future Soldier”.

The poppy was once a symbol to remind us of the senseless massacre of millions upon millions of people in muddy fields far away from home. The poppy was supposed to say never again to the horrors of a spat between politicians murdering a generation. What it is now is a symbol of militarism, and standard used to recruit children to don a uniform and go off and get themselves killed. It means the opposite of what it is supposed to.

I admit I’d stopped wearing the red poppy about six or seven years ago. I am not sure if it was because my eyes opened to what it symbolises these days, or whether it was because the poppy itself had become twisted into a mark of jingoism. The trend certainly seems to have grown stronger in recent years.

Policing of wearing the poppy has grown absurd: public figures face attacks, all the way up to death threats, for not wearing one. There are fucking poppies all over everything, from buses, to a big fuckoff wearable poppy costume. GCHQ are taking a break from peeking at our internets and turning themselves into a humongous poppy, and looking a lot like budget Doctor Who villains in the process.

Meanwhile, opinion pieces glorifying the deaths in the First World War seem to be on the rise, with pundits and politicians alike acting as though it was anything other than a meaningless mass killing that fucked up the world for generations.

And now it all becomes clearer than ever. They want us to forget what happened and pretend–as they did a hundred years ago–as though wars are nothing more than a jolly good lark. They brainwash children: not to mourn, but to strive to emulate. I cannot stop looking at that picture. It makes my gorge rise. These are children, and yet in a few years’ time, if they follow the naive dream they are being steered towards, we could be seeing them shipped back in coffins.

Instead of the symbols, the reminders, we should focus on actually remembering. On remembering, one sees the brutal senselessness of this slaughter. With a symbol, it is all too easy to simply radicalise children into militarism.

I don’t really know how to finish them, so we’ll end with Wilfred Owen, who saw this coming almost a century ago.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

If there’s an afterlife, I imagine Owen is very, very angry right now.

Further reading:

MY NAME IS LEGION – The British Legion and the Control of Remembrance (Ron Tweedy)- An in-depth look at remembrance and the RBL, covering similar themes to this post, but far more extensively.


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165 thoughts on “I don’t wear poppies, and this image perfectly encapsulates why”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I live in the USA and I actually had never heard about the symbolism of red poppies. Either it’s not a big tradition over here, or I am totally oblivious, which is possible. I learned about it because my boyfriend’s college history class was handing out poppies at an outdoor table. I’m not sure whether it serves as the same pro-militaristic propaganda over here. I’ll keep an eye out this year.

    1. The article has misled you a little. It is not a pro-militarisitic symbol, it is to remember those that died in battle and never forget their sacrifice; especially those in WW2 that thought for the freedom of every person today and their right to have an opinion.

      1. Especially the freedom to criticise the thing and not wear it… oh wait. Hang on. What about all those death threats I mentioned?

        Also, buddy, please read up on your history, because the symbol of the poppy has its roots in the First World War, because it was one of the only plants that grew in the barren battlefields let all over Europe by trench warfare.

        1. I think people prefer WW2 because it’s the one where there was the most clearly defined Bad Guys and Good Guys. I don’t think most people know what WW1 was even about!

          1. That’s because WW1 was a fucking clusterfuck of imperialism, militarism and really complicated diplomatic arrangements… and it directly caused 2.

            1. That’s an oversimplification of the situation, as I’m sure you’re aware. The rise of German nationalism and the (partly guilt-ridden) paralysis of the rest of the world can certainly be linked to WWI, but to suggest that they’re directly responsible is too simplistic, I feel. The Wall Street crash and subsequent Depression had a part to play too. As for WWI, yes, it’s not as black and white as WW2, but it’s important to recognise that the view of it we have has largely been filtered through writers like Sassoon, Owen and Blunden. There were plenty of soldiers who saw the war as a just one and, on balance, I’m inclined to agree. That does not absolve generals of poor decisions or lessen the horror of many soldiers’ experiences, of course. It is in honour of their suffering that I wear a poppy.

          2. Yeah in case anyone is interested, World War 1 was caused due to the Germans wanting an Empire like most of Europe and the Austro-Hungarians wanting revenge on the Serbians due to Serbian terrorists killing their Grand Duke. The Russians were in an Alliance with the Serbians and the French sided with them too. The Germans, who were in an alliance with the Austro-Hungarians, then attempted to invade France by going through Belgium, but since the Napoleonic War, the British were in an Alliance with Belgium where they swore to protect Belgium if it was ever attacked. Because the Germans had to invade Belgium in order to get through it to reach France, the British were roped into fighting them.

            ‘Least, that is my understanding of it.

            1. Again, the same misinformation that I’ve seen people who haven’t studied history repeat too often. ACTUALLY, Germany was the FOURTH nation to get involved in the rising conflict, NOT the country that started it. It began as an assassination and two nations starting a military build up. Here, I’ll copypasta from wiki: “His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war against Serbia. This caused the Central Powers (including Germany and Austria-Hungary) and Serbia’s allies to declare war on each other, starting World War I.[2][3][4]”

              Russia joined Serbia and began mounting a large contingent of its troops on the borders, which forces Germany to finally back their ally, Austria-Hungary. Remember, alliances between countries used to mean that when in real danger, your ally must help defend your country. Germany entered WW1 in response TO RUSSIA. Then, the rest of Europe responded to that… Now, if you could kindly stop getting history wrong. It’s the demonification of Germany and the blunder of its industry and factories (not to mention the Jewish banks closing and withdrawing large sums of money from Germany) that set the stage for something like the Nazi party taking over to even be possible. People were ANGRY, and they were right to be if you look at it historically with an impartial mind.

            2. Are you seriously suggesting that THE JEWS were responsible for the rise of the nazis? Are you justifying fascism by explaining it with anger? Of course people in Germany were angry, but does being “right to be angry” excuse mass murder? I hope that I misunderstood you.

            3. I heard that it started when a bloke called Archie Duke shot an ostrich ’cause he was hungry.

        2. The germination of poppies is a bit unusual. The seeds remain in the ground until the ground is disturbed—sometimes this takes years. The ground in WW1 was very ‘disturbed’, hence the poppies.

          The local motorway had a new central barrier years ago; where the earth had been dug up there was a wonderful display of poppies. But never since then.

        3. I know several have already said but yep poppies stem from ww1 and the fields of Flanders, used to wear a poppy but stopped a few years ago exactly because of things like this original pic. I come from a military family and am very proud of them all, every year I take time on 11/11 to remember all of those gone and to hope that just a little of the original concept of never again gets remembered. But the whole poppy police thing is getting ridiculous, my partner has first hand been dealt abuse for not having a poppy on (it’s not the 11th yet!). We try and teach our son that 11/11 is about remembering NOT glorifying!

      2. I understand that the original intent of the poppy was to be a reminder of sacrifice, not to be pro-militant. This piece, as I read it, was a critique on the fact that people seem to be using it *now* as militaristic propaganda, which is not in keeping with the spirit of memorial. I was responding to that critique and noting that I would keep an eye to see if I notice a similar trend. I’m sorry that my original comment didn’t make that clear. I’m sure that was frustrating to see.

      3. The poppy is a symbol of the battles of the first world war, not the second.
        In any case, this article is about what the poppy has become, not what it should be. It should be a symbol of remembrance of those who died, you’re right, but it has become a celebration of war.

      4. You are wrong Not ww2 you imbecile . learn your history. Flinders fields etc. Wilfred Owen Siegfried Sassoon you ignorant arse

        1. It is baffling to me that we are here to collectively agree that war is wrong and yet you can’t be apart of a discussion without being mean and hateful.

      5. Let’s not forget what it’s really all about I’ve been to the somme ctr here in NI and it would let me an Irish Republican justify wearing a poppy. Bur now you’s try to use it for all your stupit war’s o and “blame every other nation” , and sure you contuin to send your youth to their deaths in the name of justice. I believe it should be used only in remembering the lost souls of WW1 then you’s might get the support the real veteran’s deserve. Rant over

      6. The poppies come from the battlefields of Flanders in WW I. The symbolism of the poppy and original ethos of ‘never again’ has been hijacked. It is now militaristic, jingoistic and nationlist in the extreme. Read your history and get your facts right before spouting bobbins.

        P.S I am a veteran if the Falklands, so I feel I can hold the view I do without fear of the kind of intimidation and abuse hurled nowadays, especially at public figures, for not sporting the now sadly commercialised poppy.

    2. @bizzy0 I, too, am in the US and I’m sure I’m quite a bit older than you. Poppies used to be quite common here. Veterans (usually members of VFW or the American Legion) would sell them on the streets for a few days before Veterans’ Day. As WWII and Korean War veterans got too old to do it, few Viet Nam veterans took up the mantle. As a result, the tradition has largely died off here.

      That said, I don’t believe that it was ever as strong here as it was in the UK, but that is probably due to the fact that the two world wars had not affected us to anywhere near the extent that they did Britain.

  2. Excellent post. Although can I take issue with one point?

    Most Armed Forces Personnel join for a career hoping never to fight. And most don’t, 90% of the HMF are ‘support’ personnel. If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to fire your weapon.

    If you’re unlucky, like me, you get to go to 4 combat zones.

    I will wear a poppy because it’s expected of me. It’s not for remembrance, because I remember my colleagues every day, not just one day in the year.

    And I have no issue with those who choose to wear white, or none.

  3. A chap comes to the door every year, selling poppies. I donate to Earl Haig’s Fund, but refuse to take a poppy—for much the reasons you’ve listed. He entirely agrees.

    Harry Leslie Smith wrote something similar a few years ago.

  4. That picture is stupid and I don’t like that t-shirt although it is from two years ago rather than a few days.

    I wear a Poppy to commemorate the dead. That is what I was taught it was for in School and that’s how I choose to interpret it. I have seen some cases of it being used in a political context by some but I choose not to recognise that interpretation of it. Besides I don’t want to leave the symbol to them.


  5. To quote Alan Bennett’s History Boys: the best way to forget something is to commemorate it. I think this illustrates that rather well.

    1. I got one. It’s great. Haven’t seen a single colleague wearing a poppy so far. Not telling you where it is because all this poppy policing is getting violent and I don’t want to put people at risk (:

  6. I wear a poppy to remember the dead and wounded, not to glorify war, and I don’t know anyone who does otherwise, the futilty of war is still valid and not something any sane person wants to hsppen.

  7. If you are going to start referencing the original intent of the poppy, then you should also reference the origins of the white poppy campaign, which was led by Nazi sympathizers in the West.
    No one is denying your right to NOT wear a poppy. I wear one because I honour those who died (not the politicians who sent them to their deaths). But to assume that all who wear the poppy are militaristic is a classic straw man debate. It is unworthy of a thinking woman.
    The image is of children happy to be like their parents. There is nothing wrong with that. Soldiers are honourable people, and the military is an honourable profession. Wanting to become a soldier is a laudable goal. Don’t let your vitriol and one sided ideology poison the beauty that is children celebrating their veteran parents, or their express desire to pursue lofty goals.

    1. This article isn’t about white poppies, kiddo. Calm the fuck down, and go back to getting your weird boner over children wanting to get killed.

      1. It seems to me that someone struggles to accept a little criticism? I guess it’s only you that is allowed to express their opinion here…

    2. Whoa! The white poppy had nothing to do with Nazi sympathisers. The Peace Pledge Union took on wearing white poppies in 1936 as ‘a definite pledge to peace that war must not happen again’.

        1. From the part you quoted there, “Some PPU supporters were so sympathetic to German grievances that Rose Macaulay claimed she found it difficult to distinguish between the propaganda of the PPU and that of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), saying, “Occasionally when reading Peace News, I (and others) half think we have got hold of the [BUF journal] Blackshirt by mistake.”[10][11] There was Fascist infiltration of the PPU[12] and MI5 kept an eye on the PPU’s “small Fascist connections””

          That the wrong people infiltrate and subvert an organisation does not define it.

          1. Not to mention that the white poppy was created by the Women’s Cooperative Guild, many of whom had lost loved ones in the First World War and were seeking to find an alternative peace-focused way to remember them. It was then adopted by the Peace Pledge Union three or four years later, which, as you point out, was by no means pro-Nazi. At that time people interpreted any commentary on the fact that Versailles was harsh as a pro-Nazi statement.

            If the white poppy movement today was going round romanticising fascism in the way that the British Legion glorifies militarism, its detractors might have a point, but it’s not. It seems to be worn almost exclusively by people who are pacifist. Most of the white poppy-wearers I know are Quakers.

    3. “you should also reference the origins of the white poppy campaign, which was led by Nazi sympathizers in the West.” White poppies were first proposed in 1926 and first went on sale in 1933. It was entirely the idea of pacifist groups such as the Peace Pledge Union and others.
      You are free to express your opinion that all pacifists are “Nazi sympathisers” (or “leftie militants” as somebody from from another forum said), just as I’m free to express my opinion that you are talking rubbish.

    4. What a peculiar statement (unreferenced, of course, because it is untrue!). The white poppies were started in the 1920s by women who felt that the original meaning of the red poppies had been lost, and decided to produce and wear them in memory of *all* victims of war. Just like the original purpose of the red poppies, they encapsulate the hope that, in remembering, we could learn not to enact such a tragedy again.

    5. Chapter and verse on the Nazi sympathisers bit, please. I understand it to have been an initiative of the Peace Pledge Union, pacifists, not to be confused with ‘Nazi sympathisers’.

    6. The idea of the white poppy dates from only a few years after that of the red, and had nothing to do with Nazi sympathisers (where on Earth did you get that from?), but by people who had become disturbed at the way the red poppy had begun to be used jingoistically, to glorify war. It was first sold by the Women’s Co-operative Guild, and is now produced and distributed by the Peace Pledge Union.

  8. Agree whole heartedly with what you have written, it is only confirmed by the detractors who spout the usual nonsense of ‘my grandfather fought fot your freedom’ etc. The poppy was a symbol of ‘lest we forget’ & ‘never again’ but it has been hijacked by those who think war is the answer, by the over ‘patriotic’ and sadly the many racists that are very loud in our country. I don’t wear a poppy because I think it should be those that started wars and send people to die or get injured that should be supporting them and their families not a charity.

  9. “The poppy was once a symbol to remind us of the senseless massacre of millions upon millions of people in muddy fields far away from home. The poppy was supposed to say never again to the horrors of a spat between politicians murdering a generation.” This seems to be your interpretation – where’s your evidence for this assertion?

      1. You have to love the charm of the bottom half of the internet. It’s the blogwriter who’s being lazy if they make claims without evidence and just expect their readers to accept it like sheep.

  10. Growing up the poppy was exactly how the writer says.. ” to remember those who died in both World Wars” now for me personally it has become a symbol of Nationslism and in certain circumstances it had been hijacked by far right groups ( ironic since they share views similar to those the men in Ww2 were fighting against ) . It has also become a fashion accessory , with some people wearing jazzed up versions covered in diamontes and such like , which to me is not vet respectful . If people want to wear a Poppy then fine , but I choose not to , not because I don’t appreciate the sacrifice men and women gave in both World Wars …. Because I do .. But because it now in my opinion means something totally different to what it originally was meant to mean

    1. My mother used to take me to the local cenotaph and everyone there would stand in silent contemplation. I was too young to understand it really. But it was a quiet thing that people did, or didn’t do. It was never the pro-military thing it has become.

  11. I liked the start of your article, it just got a bit mouthy-foamy later and you buried a decent point and let it down by using a couple of very isolated reference points (that picture is fairly appalling I agree). Example, using the James McClean scenario to support your point to allow the suggestion to hang there that there are poppy lynch mobs wandering the streets…..as a Sunderland fan fair enough the lad was hung out to dry a bit at the time by the club but he courted plenty of bad publicity before and after the incident and while he’s been better advised since the choices he has made could be much better advised. Many sunderland fans supported his decision, he just carried it out poorly.

    1. So, you don’t like the tone, and you also don’t like the tone of McClean who–I reiterate–received death threats for not wearing a poppy. Lol.

  12. This person has simply shown their ignorance of what the Poppy actually represents. The red represents the blood of all those who gave their lives, the black represents the mourning of those who didn’t have their loved ones return home, and the green leaf represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much. The leaf should be positioned at 11 o’clock to represent the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time that World War One formally ended.

    1. Heather, actually the poppy represented the poppies which grew on the WWI battlefields. The ideas about blood and mourning overlook the fact that poppies re red and black. The symbolism you suggest is something which has been added later, it was never part of the original idea behind the poppy.
      Further more, there *is* a problem ow that while the original intention was simply to remember the fallen, the poppy has been hijacked and does, unfortunately, now have militaristic and even jingoistic connetations for a lot of people, and the pressure to wear a poppy, and judgmental attitudes to those who do not wear one are not even a little bit in keeping with the spirit or remembrance.

  13. I see where your opinion is coming from. But you don’t really mention the main purpose of the poppy selling which is to raise money for the The Royal British Legion Charity which helps to fight Dementia and support the lives of Veterans.

  14. Sorry. This article is totally a load of bollocks. The poppy or Red Poppy is meant to signify the tragic loss of life lost in wars. The Royal British Legion, annually raises funds to support injured service personnel and families who have been victims of war. Shame on this uneducated assessment, dishing the principle of what this symbol represents.

    1. ” is meant to signify the tragic loss of life lost in wars”

      It is, but it’s been misappropriated by jingoists and patriots. People who think we should bomb Syria and who think that we need to loudly support our brave boys. There’s no tragedy in loss of life in anything pro-military, it’s the glory of the dead and the heroism of the fallen. Akin to movies where people just die from being shot once, rather than the grim reality, which I just self edited out for taste.

  15. I will wear a white poppy to make my opinions clear, even though for me the wearing of a red one would only be about remembering the dead. During my time in the forces I was involved in surveying landing sites for helicopters near local hospitals as well as part of the ceasefire monitoring force in Zimbabwe.

    I left the forces due to my opinions changing. I also feel incredibly sad at how things have gone in Zimbabwe. I still feel most of the blame lies with the whites who were in power before in the same way that the swinging conditions applied to Germany after WWI led to WWII

  16. I would recommend then, that people who view the poppy, and/or remembrance sunday as anything BUT remembrance and heartfelt grief over the loss of millions of innocents, soldiers, sailors and airmen from every nation on earth, speak to a serving or former soldier/sailor/airman. smile emoticon it is NOT nor should it ever be glorification of the actions.

  17. My husband sends a wreath, poppies and metal badges to our friends in the US for the Legion where our friends are. We pay for it all and the money they raise goes to the Legion there for Veterans. It doesn’t matter who we blame, the point is it happened (yes and still is in places) but I believe it is right as the poppy is a symbol – red for the blood shed, black for mourning for those killed and the green leaf should be set at 11 o’clock for. There will always be those for and against, but the armed forces all around the world keep us safe. Respect to those who died and those injured

    1. Who exactly do the armed forces keep us safe from today? Ze Germans? Isis? We haven’t been involved in a war that was about our safety since 1945, and we’ve been involved in an alarming amount of wars in that time.

  18. I’ve worn the poppy for years out of respect and remembrance, have done since childhood and yet never got lured in to the military . Want to wear a white one? Cool. Don’t want to wear one? Cool. Radicalising children? Please. A symbol represents to you whatever you want it to, I have always assumed the world at large does’t think any more about me wearing one than ‘Oh look, there goes a bloke with a poppy on’… if they even notice.

      1. I believe the two in the middle are also wearing the t-shirt, because I can’t work out what other words would be the same length, with the same letters.

  19. The red poppy has always been an ambiguous symbol, sold in aid of the Earl Haig fund and stamped with his name until the 60s. At least while the 2 world wars were within living memory it was an authentic symbol of sorrow and suffering and could be worn with less overt political associations. The proceeds of poppy sales also helped millions of surviving wounded and bereaved families.
    But with the passing of those generations, the red poppy has been steadily hi-jacked for mainly militaristic propaganda purposes and the money raised is out of all proportion to need (which should in any case be met from public funds).
    In recent years I’ve felt increasingly uneasy about red poppies, the uniformed children often selling them, the ‘heroes’ narrative and the RBL slogans “Shoulder to shoulder with all who serve” etc. I can only wear a white one now.

  20. If you do not wish to wear a Poppy then that is quite obviously up to an individual just like if you wish to wear kne. It is narrow minded to view that the wearing of one is in any way to support or encourage military action. There may be a tiny tiny minority who wish to co opt it in that way but the vast majority just see it as a way rememberance to those who suffered and continue to suffer from such military Actions and wars. It is plain to anyone with an iota of intelligence and awareness that these wars including for example WW1 were an absolute horrific and wasteful use of human life, but you can still remember. It is a very linear approach you set out above and rather simple. I personally don’t wear one but you come across in a particularly supercilious way with judging those on your own inability to see the bigger picture with little nuanced thought. Most people who wear a poppy ha e paid for it and this money goes to helping those and those families who have suffered and co to us to suffer from military actions, whether you agree or disagree with such military action is beside the point here, it is for those people that the help goes to. Anyone saying you SHOULD wear a poppy is similarly blinkered and ignorant. Don’t judge those on your own misguided prejudices.

  21. What is wrong with everyone? Whether you choose to remember the hugely tragic loss of military personnel is a personal choice as is your motivation for doing so. I come from a military family – husband, son ,brother and father having served. It’s foolish, stupid politicians you should blame for getting us into these wars, which are mostly for nonsensical reasons anyway. Just leave people alone and let your own conscience be your guide. There’s too much bullying and browbeating going on these days which just shows how much intolerance there is within society as a whole. And that is how wars start……

  22. “The poppy was once a symbol to remind us of the senseless massacre of millions upon millions of people in muddy fields far away from home. The poppy was supposed to say never again to the horrors of a spat between politicians murdering a generation.” What it is now is a symbol of militarism,”

    I always thought the poppy was to remind us of all the people who lost their lives defending our freedom, i though each flower was to represent each individual who had died in defence of freedom and democracy? “Militarism” you say as if the majority of the people who died defending that freedom and democracy were not soldiers.

    Perhaps the poppy was supposed to say never again to the horrors of war, that was then, but today it is a mark of remembrance and respect of the people who have lost their lives for your right to be a self loathing leftwing ignoramus.

    Perhaps the people who write this disrespectfully rubbish have no respect for the sacrifice those people made for your freedom but some of us still do. I could not care less if people wear a poppy or not, we do not need your gratitude for what our forefathers have done they did not do it for gratitude they did it for freedom!!!

  23. I still buy and wear a poppy every year. For me , and many others, it still symbolises the futility of war whilst honouring those who have given their lives to protect our way of life. In my opinion, there are only a few groups who have chosen to see the poppy as a symbol which glorifies fighting against those they consider to be enemies.

  24. THE GLORIOUS DEAD…something i recorded live a year or so back as i listened to the bullshit being smeared over the national consciousness.
    No disrespect meant to those honouring the memories of families and friends…it speaks for itself.

  25. Actually you are all wrong. The poppy was chosen yes because of Flanders fields. But as they state at remembrance services nationwide year after year its for fallen of ALL conflicts from the two world wars ONWARDS

    1. Well they have to, don’t they? They can’t admit that there were two wars that we can vaguely justify, but the dead in the Greek Civil War, the Korean War, the Suez Crisis, Nigeria, the Falklands, the Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Sierra Leone , Iraq again, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as UN involvement in various civil wars are pretty much pointless? That those dead don’t matter? I mean if their lives had mattered, they wouldn’t have been sent to pointless warzones, but that can’t be admitted by those in charge.

      What price a human life? £20k a year. Great for the long term economy though.

  26. It is an interesting article and I can actually agree with some of the points.

    What a real shame though that the author is unable to engage in a civil conversation with anyone who dares to say anything that disagrees or offers other suggestions/interpretations for discussion. Foul language and verbal abuse of others is no way of winning anyone over to your point of view. But it is a price we pay for free speech which many people died to allow you to express it and they should be respected.

    Good manners cost nothing and wins every time 🙂

  27. btw if your comment hasn’t been approved please don’t whine. Because of the prominence of this post, there’s a large volume of spam and I probably mistook your no doubt Very Important Insights for spam.

  28. I do understand the point and dislike the t-shirt. For me, it doesn’t change that I wear the poppy to remember those who died for our freedom. As an analogy, if a racist party had a good policy that I heard of, I would want the government to implement it regardless of where the idea came from. Just because an organisation has done things I think of as stupid and thoughtless does not change when good things are being done. Also, not as my personal reason but as a bloody good argument, if we stop remembering those who die in war, we stand more likely to forget the horrors of war and more likely to go to war again. I don’t think that there is any real chance of me ever stopping wearing a red poppy every November.

  29. Poppies are meant to remember those who sacrificed everything and those they left behind. The fact that these kids want to celebrate their family and want to be heroes just like them is not disgusting what so ever. God bless all of them. My poppy is and always will be proudly displayed.

  30. How recently was this photo taken (I remember the same or similar from two or three years ago) and on what basis do you associate it with the Royal British Legion campaign? Have you read the Legion’s Mission statement? The promotion of militarism is not part of it, and there is no RBL logo on the T-shirts or the poppies. In fact, the use of the term ‘veteran’ suggests the source is North American. Of course, there are many other organisations throughout the Commonwealth and the USA which use the red poppy as a symbol. It is a pity that people keep posting these pictures in order to undermine the Act of Remembrance without providing details of the source. Your blog should credit both photographic and written sources, so we can make a judgement about their validity and authenticity ourselves. If you don’t want to take part in the RBL Act of Remembrance, no one is forcing you, but don’t use this photo as a reason.

    1. If instead of kneejerking, you looked at the hyperlink, you would locate the tweet. Manchester 2013. Not the USA.

  31. I am proud to be British, I am proud to wear a poppy. I am lucky enough that my grandparents survived the war, as there are many who did not. The money raised from buying poppies helps charity and the awareness reminds people of the horrors of our history. Sir, you are the ignorant one.

  32. Not wearing one is fine, your reasons are very misguided but then you are allowed to be misguided. May I ask if you still donate to the British Legion though, this raises most of the money the RBL needs in order to help veterans of all ages live normal lives. Feel free to object to the symbol but don’t forget the actual point of people selling the damn things in the first place.

  33. Most of the people commenting seem to know that wearing a poppy is about remembering those who fought and those who lost their lives in the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Most of the posts I see on fb mention remembrance and never forget so maybe people are wearing poppies for the right reasons.

  34. When you see the likes of Mr Blair laying poppies at the Cenotaph you cannot ignore the blood he caused to be spilt, the best way to resepect the lives of those that died in wars is to stop adding to their number !

  35. I find my son engorged in battle with video games and see him becoming militarized. It frightens me yet, also is a sense of pride that he might serve his country? The choice is his in the end.

  36. I respect everyone’s right to both hold and to voice an opinion, irrespective of whether one believes in that opinion.
    The poppy is not a military symbol it is a symbol worn to commemorate those who gave their lives in conflict, whatever and wherever that conflict entails. It is precisely because of those brave men and women that many countries enjoy democracy, and without such brave people, most of us would not even be able to voice our opinions publicly. Sadly, the people who oppose such symbols seem to lose track of the meaning, and promote an anti government rhetoric instead. Please note that even if you disagree with my opinion, the only reason I am able to voice it (and you to disagree) is because of the ultimate sacrifice our fallen heroes made.

  37. Well written. It’s all well and good mourning and remembering those who lost their lives in the line of duty but distorting the message and theme of poppy from remembrance to militarism is almost criminal. If anything, we need the freedom to not wear the poppy (although here in India we are not big on it. I never saw anyone wearing this myself). If anything, the World needs more sane people at governance and decision-making levels to ensure mistakes that led to hundreds of thousands of people getting killed and displaced in the past (and still continuing around the world) are not repeated.

  38. It’s not poppy dealing that’s causing all the world’s military problems. It’s arms dealing, with Europe and the US neck deep in selling billions of weapons to inflamed masses.

  39. This reminds me of a set of finger puppets I saw in a drugstore in upstate New York. They were in time for the Passover holiday and featured all ten Plagues in finger puppet form. It does not necessarily twist the meaning as your picture does, but it does (IMHO) completely trivialize the suffering by turning it into a children’s game.

  40. I read this and I felt it was sadistic. Yes, glorified war in a manner which totally misrepresents it. The problem is, many of us do not like blood and guts sprawled in the news – so news is also watered down version’s of what we can handle. They call it self – censorship or company censorship. If there was a blanket ban of censorship in Blighty (UK) it would be time to panic – for you are no longer in Blighty but some really bizarre Nanny state preparing for war and recruiting young people.

  41. Fascinating read. Coming from the states it is difficult to relate to the symbolism, but the blatant rewriting of history is all to close to home.

  42. Excellent post. Anything that drums up the “romanticism” of future youth dying in senseless conflict is suspect and counter to the message “In Flanders Field” imparts to youth being wasted in senseless and ceaseless battle.

  43. This is true, however I would say that the mentality that we must respect by commemorating has always existed subconsciously. A type of war propaganda is created through this.

  44. The sentiment here is fine if ultimately misguided. In a utopian world there will be no war. However, here in the real one people will be called to sacrifice themselves for the freedom of others, one which you would clearly not make. You are free to write this because others are prepared to take up arms to protect you. Step up yourself before you judge.

  45. This year I witnessed a pretty fair decrease of poppy wearers. I’m sure it’s not for the reasons you’ve argued here. In my area here anyways, as a Canadian, the poppy very much still embodies the remembrance of the great wars where entire generations were affected. It also serves as reminder that war & politics are still present. Or perhaps that’s just me. A moment of silence at 11:00a.m. is still & should always be held.

  46. It bothers me that people can get so hot and bothered about poppies while ignoring the fact that we are still waging open as well as secret wars around the globe, for pretty much the same reasons.

    All wars are economically–not idealistically–motivated, despite what the history books say. The people who declare the wars don’t have to fight them, but they benefit financially, and bankers historically have financed both sides of every war.

    Hasn’t anyone learned that only the financiers and politicians benefit from war?

    Those WWI vets would be dead of old age by now, anyway, and the WWII vets are not far behind.

    What about now?

  47. Staters, your post was well written and intelligent. I am a Quaker who financially supports veterans but does not wear a poppy because of some of the reasons you mentioned. That said, I do realize that sometimes bullies need to be dealt with and war is sometimes an evil necessity. It is much more complicated than a blog post and all the comments. Anyway, your post is interesting but it seems you let the comments of some tear you away from your original purpose. War and hate is senseless. The Internet can bring out the worst in us. I really hope the spirit of this comment comes through because after all this is the Internet and you can’t see me or hear the intention in my voice. Keep standing up for what is right. Don’t let others bring you down to their level even if you think they are wrong. Namaste.

  48. Having almost hit 60 years I am quite amazed by the need to wear a poppy on TV. I used to always buy a poppy but I didn’t always remember to wear it on each change of clothing! I think there has been a change and it should be ok to not wear one or even try a white one, or a white and red one. I remember in my own way and having taught the literature of the First World War, context is crucial. We need people who can create peace in the future.

  49. I never knew poppies had anything to do with war. The only poppy related incident I know of is from the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her companions are put to sleep in the field of poppies. Thank you for educating me.

  50. I also don’t wear the poppy.

    However, I don’t wear it for precisely what it was always intended to represent: the honour and duty of war, a torch being passed on from one fallen combatant to the next.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    On Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day) we “honour the sacrifice of those who defended our freedom”. Rather than “never again”, this has always come with the unspoken context of “until we must again.”

    It’s not surprising little girls in colourful t-shirts carrying poppies — which look more like party balloons — skip happily to their future deaths as future soldiers.

    We do, on Remembrance Day, say “Never forget!”

    Unfortunately, we have already forgotten. Long ago, forgotten.

    I cannot wear the poppy. I was not there. But I cannot allow myself to forget.

  51. Hi, Im from the US, and over here people carry on about wearing an American flag pin in the same ugly and jingoistic way. My understanding was that the poppy symbolized mourning over the senseless waste of WW1. The poppy grew in Flanders fields. Its a shame if its been hijacked by chickenhawks. I agree that picture is alarming. No child should wish to be a future soldier.

  52. If beings from another planet witnessed the violence & wars going on here they would conclude that we are a morally/ethically undeveloped species. They wd be right of course. Having children wearing T-shirts with that slogan -future soldiers- is appauling!

  53. When I was young, we celebrated Armistice Day. That is, we celebrated the end of war on Nov. 11. That is a truly international aspiration that everyone can get behind (except the arms dealers).

  54. I always give to the veterans, and I have great respect for those who have served in the military and are currently serving. When I was young (about the age of those kids in the picture), I had a much different view of the world and the military than I do now. Now, at age 61, I realize that guys my age simply start wars. Kids just a bit older than those pictured here are sent to fight and die in them.
    But I did give some money to the lady outside the grocery store last week handing out poppies. I just told her nicely that I always support the vets, but she could save the poppy for someone else.

  55. Have you heard of the white poppy movement? I first saw it a few years ago in Ottawa, Canada. Apparently the founders have faced tremendous back-lash (including death threats) for daring to keep peace and pacifism at the center of a day of mourning for those who have died in war. I have stopped wearing poppies, or even going to rememberence day ceremonies, for this exact reason. It’s not the somber, eye-opening experience I would like. Instead, I have my moment of mourning in private. I think about my late grandfather who fought in the second world war, and I think about all the men and women who continue to have their lives ripped apart by war (on every side of the conflict).

  56. I know remembrance day has past now and this may seem now irrelevant. However in my own eyes I wear a red poppy to remember those who gave their lives and as an act of respect to those courageous men and women who sacrificed everything. I support the military but not through the poppy.

  57. Hey this is true but also wearing the poppy for me is a symbol of the war in Northern Ireland and if I were to wear it, it would be a symbol of my support to the British soldiers who died in the Irish war of independence rather than my very own Irish…this is why Irish people do not wear them!!

  58. I know remembrance day has past now and this may seem now irrelevant. However in my own eyes I wear a red poppy to remember those who gave their lives and as an act of respect to those courageous men and women who sacrificed everything.

  59. Originally, Poppies were sold to benefit British soldiers that were wounded in war. This was known as the Earl Haig Fund.

    If you are against aiding military veterans, then do continue to rant as if you had something to say that was not the product of a delusion.

    I am a veteran of the British army and served in two wars. I am also a quarter irish and have synmpathy for my Irish forebears, but when I ghet to the point that I have to politicise everything that can be distorted by small minds than I shall have someone nail the lid on my plywood coffin qwith me inside and bury me so deep that I will be unable to crawl my way out.

    I sympathise with the dead and wounded and the berefty on all sides of any war wherever it is or was.

    Thank God I am still human and have not been turned into a hate-spouter.

  60. Thank you for speaking out. I have not worn a poppy for many years. It no longer represents what it used to and is used as a stick to beat people with and as an emotional blackmail tool (in my opinion)

  61. I’m not saying that the image was the RBL’s best promotional idea and they should have probably kept it off Twitter. However. Is there anything wrong with wanting to be a soldier?! It is a valid career choice and you seem to have vilified it. There are a great wide variety of jobs in the Armed Forces and I don’t see what is wrong in a child saying ‘I want to be in the Armed Forces when I’m older’. If they didn’t we wouldn’t have a military and I have no idea if that’s something you would advocate but trust me we would not survive as a country without a military – they do more than fight wars you don’t agree with. Next time there’s a national disaster you may need them and if no children aspire do that job then where will we be? (There are girls in this picture as well which is fantastic for gender equality – we need more girls to want to be in the armed forces from a younger age, as boys often do, to make the balance more equal).

      1. Wow. Strong. They have a lot of specialist skills not shared by the police so if there is a massive flood, another outbreak of Ebola in Africa, or a terrorist attack or threat of one in your local town or city then I hope you personally don’t require their help. You and this whole article has an underlying anti-armed forces theme which is disgusting. It is the government who chose which battles we fight and why. Not the men and women of the armed forces who are doing their job with an honest belief they are serving their country – whatever their job role is. You should aim your tirade at the people who deserve it because we definitely need the armed forces, and you should provide them more respect because one day they might save your life.

        1. lol how about training civilians to do all of this stuff and stopping wishing horrible things on people who object to radicalising children?

  62. Spot on. I cant stand this fetishisation of the armed forces. Incidentally, neither my dad (Tobruk, followed by 3 years inside the Reich as a POW) or granddad (The Somme) were ever overly arsed about poppies and parades and stuff

  63. how do you feel proud when you discover that the wars were and still are about control, power, and money. That the USA started almost every war and are responsible for millions of deaths all over the world? Murders. And Canada is their ally. It had nothing to do with protecting our home front. How many wars happened on our soil? None! I am not proud of my grandfather fighting in ww1. I am sorry that he died young leaving his daughter, my mom without any family. A grandfather I never got to know. Now that I know about the opium wars between China and Britain the poppy will never have any meaning to me again. I wonder what the true meaning of the poppy is. Today I wish Canada was not an ally of the USA. The USA responsible second to only china for murdering the most people in war. How many Canadians have died helping the USA keep their dominance over the world? How many more will die? On November the 11th I will go to my grandpas grave side in remembrance of a man my mom says had a heart of gold, a man who taught my mom to be fair and non judgemental, a grandfather that was senselessly taken from us and ask the creator that the senseless killling stops and no more of our loved ones die. A question I have is why, why do we glorify and celebrate the senseless killing of millions of people.

  64. Thank you for this. The greatest respect that we can ever show our soldiers is never to ask them to kill, or to die.

  65. I agree. I’m a veteran, who has had comrades die in foreign countries .
    I also feel the disgust with poppy fascists.
    Also with politicians who resist criticism of their policies which place the military in danger, by playing the ‘support the troops’ card.

  66. I won’t dispute any other points you made only your point that WW1 was a dumb disagreement between politicians. The Central powers were invading and annexing other countries and needed to be stopped, not to mention the millions of people the Ottoman Empire killed from Genocide.

    1. d’aww cute that (a) you think it was about that and (b) you don’t think the motherfucking british and french empires weren’t committing genocides or invading and annexing other countries. History teaching these days is so inadequate.

  67. Well said! I agree and thanks for quoting Wilfred Owen, a poem I read as a teenager that has stayed with me ever since. That poem should accompany every picture of a poppy on Facebook. I do wear a poppy, but I do so in the true spirit of it and to support those soldiers injured, maimed and killed by the action of politicians remembering the waste of life that all wars are.

  68. WELL SAID!!kate Bush sang about this in ‘Army Dreamers ! What a breath of fresh air! I am so sick to the backteeth of hearing people esp the brits and Americans worship war and it’s soldiers. I was watching Piers Morgan very recently and some veteran , a Sergeant Brian Wood, was on their making comments on how amazing the war was and how we should remember our heroes. The comments bordered on racist bigotry as they started talking about the ‘Islamist Sate and Muslims’ . Many soldiers are racist and are basically chavs recruited into the army and given a uniform. AS MOST OF US ALL KNOW, MOST CHAVS ARE VERY RACIST, SO THEY CARRY THESE VIEWS INTO THE ARMED FORCES.
    THE GUARDIAN DID A PEICE ON AN ASIAN AND BLACK SOLDIER WHO HAD BEEN THROUGH AWFUL RACISM, WITH SOLDIERS CHEERING STANDING BY RACIST WHITE SUPERMACIST TOMMY ROBOINSON MAKING RACIST RE,ARKS ABOUT ASIANS. WELL, OF COURSE THEY WOULD LOVE TOMMY ROBINSON, THE FAR RIGHT WHITE SUPEREMACIST! LOL-i’m sorry but soldiers are not heroes! I don’t class people who kill innocent men , women or children as heroes or role models to look up to! If America and the UK to a lesser extent, are so proud of their Marines, then why are they nearly always homeless? Why is there a HUGE gay porn industry and rent boy industry around military men who are vulnerable and homeless and pulled into gay porn for money by sleazy old men?? Not very dignified is it!

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