Is this efflorescence of giant poppies on lampposts and the like happening everywhere in the country? And how long before there’s a law that everyone wear a red poppy? The red poppies originally represented the ‘fallen’ military personnel from World War 1, a particularly stupid war in which over 9 million combatants died alongside 7 million non-combatants, ‘collateral damage’ in modern parlance. The red poppy now represents all British military personnel who’ve died in British conflicts.
Those who choose not to wear, or are accidentally not wearing, a poppy may well find themselves on the receiving end of abuse and even threats. One such is Irish footballer James McClean who won’t wear one because he comes from Derry, the scene of Bloody Sunday. He says he’d wear one if it was just for those who died in the 2 world wars. Moeen Ali, the England cricketer, also received abuse when in a team photo taken on October 28th he was the only one not wearing a red poppy. It had fallen off just before the photo and no one noticed. Another form of ‘collateral damage’ maybe?
Now perhaps there is too much remembering in the world; too much remembering of military victories, mass slaughters, ‘wicked’ betrayals, religious persecutions all of which can fuel dangerous self righteousness. This remembering has played it’s part in brexit, drumf’s election, the Middle East, Korea, the Balkans, Catalonia, Ireland and ‘chopper’ Harris chopping down Eddie Gray in the 1970 FA cup replay.
Perhaps we need a little more forgetting so that life can move on. Even mourning as David Rieff writes:
“What Szymborska articulates is the ethical imperative of forgetting so that life can go on – as it must. And she is right to do so. For everything must end, including the work of mourning. Otherwise the blood never dries, the end of a great love becomes the end of love itself, and, as they used to say in Ireland, long after the quarrel has stopped making any sense, the memory of the grudge endures.”
And as war veteran George Evans wrote:
““I remember my friends and my enemies too/ We all did our duties for our countries/ We all obeyed our orders/ Then we murdered each other/ Isn’t war stupid?”
He was sacked from reading at the Remembrance Day proceedings in his home town of Wellington, Shropshire after reading his poem.
Maybe too much selective remembering and not enough forgetting?
Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.