Firstly, I think that it is important, in the context of this article at least, to point out that I spent 6 proud years in the Armed Forces, and that during my service, I found myself in Sierra Leone during the Civil War there, as well as in the NATO/Yugoslavia campaign of 1999.
I have also looked at the site behind the ‘white poppy’ “campaign” in order to try and gain an understanding and insight into what exactly it is that the “Peace Pledge Union” are trying to “promote”. That which follows, is my own personal opinion and observation:
One of the first things which stood out to me whilst browsing the website actively pushing the white poppy campaign, was the fact that the monies raised from the sale of their White Poppies DOES NOT go to ANY Veteran charities (unlike the proceeds from the sale of red poppies). I thought that I would add this, just to clear up any confusion.
So if you are wanting to support our Veterans, then you will not be doing that when you buy a white poppy. On their website it states: “White poppies are more about the message of peace and remembrance than about raising funds. We distribute white poppies to promote remembrance for all victims of war and to challenge the view that war and preparations for war are necessary or inevitable.”
On another page, they go on to state:
“We believe there is no justification for the widespread promotion of the heroic status of military personnel nor the frequent insistence that children should be grateful to the war dead. We believe that the distribution to every school of educationally questionable material which uncritically praises the armed forces by the government and at remembrance time by the British Legion should be challenged and severely restricted.”
Now this second statement taken from their website, really wound me up. Why? Well, my inference from the 2nd paragraph cited above, is that they seem to think that the brave lads and lasses who paid the ultimate sacrifice should be forgotten. No. They should not and will not be forgotten.
Younger generations should be reminded of the ultimate sacrifice made by those brave men and women who signed up to try and preserve the freedom of our society, and paid for this belief with their lives.
They also state: “We believe that the distribution to every school of educationally questionable material which uncritically praises the armed forces by the government…” Oh. So it IS a political statement then. There are more holes in their ‘mission statement’ than what you would find in a sieve. So it would seem to appear that the white poppy isn’t just about ‘peace’ (which I endorse).
They also believe that material which remembers our war dead should be “severely restricted” (their words) – sounds to me like a desire to control freedom of expression. Not very ‘peaceful’ in my opinion.
They seem to want you to think, that the white poppy is a symbol of remembrance. Which is not what other sections (including those cited above) of their website seem to want to promote.
Besides, the red poppy already covers remembrance. But they have stated on their own website, that the sales of their white poppies are “more about the message of peace and remembrance than about raising funds”. If that is the case, then why not try and push the sale of these “peace poppies” at a time of the year that does not ‘conflict’ with the sale of red poppies, the sales of which directly helps Veterans?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for peace. Wouldn’t it be nice if war was eradicated from the face of this planet. Wouldn’t it be nice, if people were not so obsessed with power, control and money, that they stopped killing & murdering people in order to get what they want. But, these people DO exist and we need protecting from them.
In fact, I am all for people being able to symbolise their desire to bring about peace on this planet, but NOT by taking a well known symbol that is designed to honour and remember those men and women who gave up their own lives, and then trying to turn such a symbol into a Political message (as seen by their contradictory statements).
Why don’t the people behind the white poppy, just come up with a different symbol? Why don’t they come up with something that does not try to take away the reflection that we SHOULD make for all those lives which have been lost by the brave men and women sent to fight wars which they do not necessarily always “agree” with.
My feelings are that they specifically want to push the sales of their white poppy, because they seem to care more about the funds raised (there is no citation on their website in relation to where these funds go) and they seem to also want to specifically cause upset to people like me; Veterans.
And I say this, because the white poppy does, in a sense, ‘upset’ me, because Remembrance Day is about honouring the memory of those brave men and women, who were sent to war by various governments, but who did not make it home.
At the end of the day, you are free to do whatever you want. Buy a red poppy. Buy a white poppy. Or buy no poppies. And this freedom has been brought to you by the people who have laid down their lives, so that you can make the sort of choices, such as which poppy to wear (or not wear), without being thrown into prison for making such a decision.
It would seem however, based on my own opinion having read the content on the site behind the white poppy, that they have conveniently forgotten this fact, whilst trying to push their own spurious agenda. But, of course, you must make up your own mind.
But just keep in mind something that sticks in mine; The promoters of the white poppy, think that the sharing of material that honours our war dead, should be “severely restricted”… But surely nothing gets the message across better about trying to prevent future wars, by remembering the sons, the daughters, the fathers and the mothers who have lost their lives IN wars.