This time last year I wrote here of my thoughts regarding remembering the dead and poppies. It is a difficult subject to discuss due to the essentially personal act of remembering the dead.
I was in work today and a two minute silence was observed at 11am. It was not optional.
I abided by the silence out of respect for my colleagues although I spent the two minutes thinking what may have been regarded as rebellious thoughts had they read my mind.
There is a conflicting narrative as to what the whole remembrance poppy month is about. On the one hand it is about the 11th hour of the 11th day. In other words, the British Army dead of world war 1. On the other hand it is about commemorating the British Army dead of all conflicts before and since, including our local one.
If it is the former, then there is some justification for official Irish Government participation in commemorative events. If it is the latter, there is none.
If I may elaborate a little, many Irish men joined up at that time for honest reasons believing the assurances they were given at the time. The Ulster Volunteers went to war believing they were demonstrating their loyalty to their “King, God and Ulster” and ensuring the defeat of the home rule movement. Meanwhile, John Brutons hero, Redmond, was encouraging many thousands to their slaughter under the promise of, guess what, eventual Home Rule.
They were all victims. My question is of whom?
The latter narrative is that wearing a poppy commemorates all British Military personnel. My thoughts on that would extend to many pages and my style of writing is to be brief.
Members of my own family lie in a graveyard at Bansha in Tipperary, victims of British Military activities in the 1920s, while Mrs Bangordubs Father lies in an Enniskillen graveyard in close proximity to Senator Gordon Wilson and his daughter Marie, a victim of people pursuing in the same wrongheaded and appalling way, the same principles my own relatives were murdered for.
My two minutes was spent thinking about the many victims, military and civilian, of the many conflicts pursued by British Military imperialism, and others, over many years.
I regard the British military dead over many centuries as victims, not of who they found themselves shooting at, but of who they were shooting on behalf of. The Poppy extravaganza, for that is what it now is, may be seen as an exercise in drawing the public gaze away from those who gave the orders, the men in grey suits with no medals on their chests.
It is right and proper to remember those who died in battle fighting for what they believed in. Not just some of them, all of them, including those who died fighting for Irish freedom with the backing of an elected majority.
Commemoration? Victims? Causes?
Let us remember all of them, not some.