Excuse my alliteration in the title, spoken aloud it reveals my meaning. It is traditional at this time of year to note the proliferation of Poppies and the Taliban like observance of the wearing of this symbol. Particularly on the BBC. In the North of Ireland, naturally, the wearing of the Poppy takes on a meaning entirely of it’s own.
It is an honourable and noble thing to remember those who died fighting for one’s country. Remembrance of courage and sacrifice are important and teach lessons for future generations. It binds people of a country in ties of patriotism and common cause, it serves as a reminder of principles and values. It helps people to understand things greater than the individualistic self interest that characterises much of todays world.
Ideally that is what the wearing of the Poppy should be about.
But that is not what it is about here. The British Army represents none of the above values to me. The wearing of the Poppy is about flaunting something entirely different. It is, like most displays in the North, about identity and allegiance. It is a petty point scoring exercise which cheapens the sacrifices of those whom it is intended to commemorate and demeans those who use it as a political weapon.
As Channel 4’s Jon Snow discovered, there appears to be a mafia style insistence upon wearing this symbol for a two week period every year, even in Britain. We have the ridiculous sight of entertainment shows with non British contestants wearing them, we have shiny ones, enamel ones, diamond ones, flamboyant ones, silk ones…..you name it. It is beyond parody.
Personally, I believe countless thousands have fought and died for Britain over many Centuries including many, many Irishmen. ( Many more from South of the current border than North of it). For what? Certainly not so people could wear a flower as a means of rubbing their neighbours noses in it. Certainly not so that a TV producer could insist, whether directly or implicitly, that a teenage wannabe is seen to be toeing the fashionable political line.
My Grandmothers brother was shot dead by the British Army at the door of his Mothers farm in 1920 in Co Tipperary. His “crime” was the way he looked at them. I’ll not be wearing a Poppy this year.