Harry Leslie Smith, "This year I will wear a poppy for the last time", The Guardian (08 November 2013)


I haven't worn a poppy for a few years now. I'm not a pacifist, at least I'm not a proper one; I can just about imagine circumstances in which it's better to fight than to allow wickedness to prevail and do even more damage, and I think Hitler and his Nazi thugs were such a wickedness. But I have become increasingly conscious of how the poppy symbol and remembrance in general have become co-opted by the modern war machine, serving to baptise the UK's wars of the 21st Century in the spirit of its perhaps more morally-defensible Past.

But I have wondered if I'm wrong. Perhaps I should nevertheless wear this symbol, at least on the 11th itself, just to remember the sacrifice and pain of so many whose lives paid for the freedom I now enjoy. But how can I? How can I, when so many around me - who dutifully wear the symbol, and who may even look down upon people like me who do so no longer - themselves pay so little attention to what's going on today that they would allow those very hard-won freedoms to die? And how can I when even someone like Harry Leslie Smith can no longer?
Image: "Lest we forget but not glorify war" by Ijanderson977, own work, licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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