Trigger Warnings – Talk of war/death
I wanted to do a post to honour this day of Remembrance Sunday in which we commemorate the First and Second World Wars and all the lives that were lost in the name of freedom and the end of tyranny, the brave men and women that sacrificed themselves to make the world a better place and how we wear the poppy as it was the flower that grew upon the battlefields after the First World War, a poetic contribution from nature in how beauty can return to a world ravaged by war if we only look for it. I have conflicting views on the idea of wearing a poppy, some say it is a symbol that has come to encompass the wars in the Middle East that aren’t so cut and dry as “These guys are evil, we have to stop them being evil” and as such, politicians justify their wars by making pretty speeches about honour and patriotism, whilst others say the poppy doesn’t stand for the innocent lives, only the soldiers and generals, as if romanticising and idolising a history of bloodlust into heroics when it was more a feud between individuals that cost the masses their lives. I don’t know what to feel for whilst I’m left-winged and very anti-war, I’m very much in support of the efforts of armed forces, past and present, and I am a patriot deep down.
War is often seen as romantic and poetic and as an artist myself, I can see, heck I grew up with war stories colouring my impressions of humanity and in these tales of ancient heroes and warriors I saw the noblest of traits – sacrifice, duty, honour, principle – traits we may not say in our day to day lives. The soldiers tell the tragic tale of the pointlessness of their fight, how they must kill men with whom they bear no quarrel for the sake of fat old men they’ve never met and that no matter how bloody the war, it is the poor men who had no desire for this conflict that must die, never the generals or the leaders, only ever the men out in the field. Religion, land, freedom, war has come to mean many things for many people and is as true of humanity as breathing and eating, it is what separates us from beasts is our brilliance at killing each other.
So what does this poppy mean? Is it really a touching memoriam to the fallen heroes or is it glorifying death and sacrifice when really we should think of the war as a great shame brought upon us by corruption and greed? Are the soldiers brave or stupid for dying for such men? What of the innocent, do they not deserve remembrance? I will never approve of war, though I read the stories and admire the men, it saddens me to my very core that such great men had to die for the world to progress and even now, many good people die and the world still insists on this cycle of hatred and ignorance. I think of the British people saying how their grandfather didn’t die to make Britain a home for Polish people, no, your grandfather died to fight against people who didn’t believe in freedom and equality for all, your grandfather died shooting racism in the face because it had no place in the world and his sacrifice was to keep Britain free of tyranny, not immigrants. I have no right to say this but I honestly think if my grandfather were here today, it would not be the growing racial diversity that troubled him, it would be the unbelievable class divide and the fact that we haven’t seemed to have learned much since then when it comes to the whole let’s-not-kill-each-other-en-masse deal.
The poppy, therefore, to me, means what the wearer interprets it as meaning and this is where I must stand against my left-wing allies and actually exercise some national pride. Patriotism is no bad thing, it’s nice to support your country but what led so many to oppose Hitler was when he started thinking his country deserved more than others did, when a man was willing to kill in the name of racial prejudice and hatred to create a white super race. I wear a poppy, and I’ve decided on that, as it is not a glorification of war and sacrifice, it is a way to say you remember the lessons that history tried to teach us and that in our heart, you wish for a world in which we no longer bear arms against one another. I wear the poppy as a way of saying a silent thank you to the men and women who died for us and no those soldiers didn’t die for glory, for the war, for medals, they died because they believed in something so strongly they would rather give up their life than give up what that belief meant to them and in anyone, British, German or whatever, that is admirable, so many of us talk big but when confronted with death, we would buckle, we would cry and beg and sell our souls but these people – they flipped the bird to the reaper because they did their part and that was what mattered
Soldiers are heroes but not because they fought in the war and fought the good fight that the posters told them was glorious or because they killed their enemies in bloody conquest and became decorated veterans, soldiers are heroes to me because for the most part they are good people. Sure, there are exceptions, there are bad examples of any kind of person and some people, when given a gun, are not as responsible as they should be, but these people saw something that mattered more than their own well-being and were ready to do anything to make it a reality. Fathers, brothers, sons – they didn’t fight because they wanted to kill people, they fought because they wanted to ensure a safe future for their mothers, sisters and daughters, for their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren, they fought for peace and freedom. However, all sacrifices made are worthy of note and so not only are the soldiers heroes, the innocent must be remembered and mourned, the fathers who outlived their sons, the children who never played in the streets, the people who died simply for their religion or sexuality, all must be remembered and mourned
The reason we remember them is not just out of grief and mourning, or out of duty and honour to those who died that we might live, we remember them because we must be inspired by them to create a world in which we need never again cry for those who died for us, we must constantly strive to make a better world, a without war, the very world warriors die in an effort to create. Remember them, mourn them, be inspired by them and let no more names be added to their ranks