Today is 11th November, which is Remembrance Day - traditionally this date is used to honour those who died in the armed forces in WW1 and WW2, and is marked with the red poppy.
I have observed the two minutes silence, as I do every year as I believe that those who died in the armed forces in these wars deserve to be remembered.
However I am not wearing a red poppy today, I am wearing a white one.*
I've struggled with the idea of wearing a red poppy for the last few years and therefore haven't worn one; though it's only this year that I've sat down and done some reading and thought about why, and made an active decision to wear a white one instead.
What initially sparked this off is unhappiness at how Remembrance Day and the red poppy appear to have been hijacked in recent years by politicians - partly the jingoism, partly using Remembrance Day and the red poppy as a tool to give some sort of justification to (what I believe were unnecessary) recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Also, I'm a pacifist and wish to live in a world where armies don't exist and wars don't happen which was a large part of why the above sat so uncomfortably. Traditionally the white poppy is used by pacifists as a symbol of the desire to see an end to war, instead of or as a complement to the red poppy.
I also believe that all our war dead deserve to be remembered, civilians as well as the armed forces that have died in all conflicts worldwide. I realise that some people observe Remembrance Day in this way and feel that the red poppy adequately symbolises this but I am unable to untangle the tradition from the symbol. I disagree with war, and believe that some of the conflicts had no justification, and also accept that some of the war dead did terrible, terrible things in the name of war - however dying in a conflict is a horrible way to go which is why I wish to remember those who died in this way, regardless of their relative guilt or innocence.
Another reason is that I'm originally from Northern Ireland where the red poppy has been worn as a protestant loyalist symbol. For various reasons I am uncomfortable with this symbolism, but that's a whole other discussion entirely and it's not a can of worms that I wish to start opening up here.
I hope I've explained myself sufficiently - not that I should need to explain myself, but more so people understand my motivation behind wearing a white poppy and maybe so it can help people untangle their own thoughts if they find themselves in a similar position.
Of course, there's the other issue that white poppies are relatively difficult to get hold of - I have spoken to people who wish to wear one but have no idea how to get hold of one. For those of you who wish to wear a white poppy but don't know where to get one, you can buy them from http://www.ppu.org.uk or, alternatively, if you are craftily inclined you can make your own (which is what I did - there are lots of free patterns available on the internet).
* NB: I think the Royal British Legion do a great job and am still happy to give money to them, even if I don't want to buy a red poppy.
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