Monday, 10 November 2008


This Sunday I went with my parents to Coventry's Remembrance Parade. I wasn't planning on going, but then I remembered being in Belgium and crying my eyes out as the Last Post played. It hit home again why I'd bought my poppy. I don't wear it as an ostentatious display of patriotism, or to shout "Yay, we won the war aren't we the dog's bollocks" as Alasdair accused 'too many people' of doing. In fact, I think you'd be hard pushed to find someone with that attitude who wasn't a member of the BNP. Especially considering that the poppy is the result of a Canadian's poem, and introduced by a French woman.

But as for deciding whether or not to support the day... The clue is in the name; Remembrance Day.
    Remembrance Day – also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day (the event it commemorates) or Veterans Day – is a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War.
I didn't see a single Union Flag being waved, and I didn't hear celebratory words about winning any wars. Instead it was a somber occasion highlighting how much war has meant we've lost. It makes sense to me that someone taking a remotely anti-war stance should support the Poppy Appeal in an attempt to publicise the horrific loss that comes from war. Surely it highlights a key reason why we should stop our fighting?

The day was full of remembrance for me, in more ways than one.

It dragged up that fear of mine again; that disconcertment joining the OTC instilled in me. My choice of university society has resulted in me knowing too many people who have chosen a career in the Army. I know I shouldn't, but I can't help but worry that something will, inevitably, happen to one of them. Palmer has just got back from Kosovo and is off to Kenya soon before deploying to Afghanistan. Jon has 2010 pencilled in his diary for his tour of Afghanistan. Lee is counting down the days until he flies out from Briars Norton.

That fear also gets me thinking about Bash. I'm supposed to have buried that demon, but I think it'll always haunt me. I worry that one day I'll hear bad news about him and know that we left everything on such bad terms. To make it more poignant the service was at Memorial Park; where Bash and I had lunch together on his birthday. I still hate that I allow him to have this effect on me.

Remembrance Day is also a chance for me to feel proud of my dad. I've never written about when he left for Iraq. It was a very strange time for us, not only because he was going, but for a whole host of reasons that I don't think I'll ever write about. I don't necessarily feel proud because he went; he was doing what he was trained to do. But I feel pride because of what he's doing now... He secretaries an association for all the retired members of his regiment. I met some of them at the weekend and they were fantastic! They were full of stories and memories, and they really were marching for their fallen comrades. They'd lived through it, but some of their friends had not. I don't know what they'd do with themselves if they didn't have their Association.

With regards to poppies; who am I to say whether or not you should wear one? I went through a period of refusing to because I thought they were tacky. But then I grew up.


ayemiy said...

love this post. it shames me for not having a poppy.

rosiewishes. said...

Mm... you should read Alasdair's response, it might make you rejoice that you didn't.