Poppies poppies poppies.
Yes, it’s that time of year. Remembrance . Supposedly.
I won’t be wearing a poppy.
Not because I disrespect the fallen, I’m a veteran too.
Though I hate all war, I’m pretty sure that’s most service folk, and veterans.
It might seem a matter of cognitive dissonance , to be told this, but many of us join partly because of a hate of war, and desire through defence, to prevent it, and prevent it reaching our loved ones.
And I respect white poppies. I respect the true conscientious objector, the Quaker or pacifist who, at risk of alienation from everything they love, have the courage to stand for what they believe.
I love my family, and my country by extension. And if there were a pacifist in my family I’d still happily die defending them. Defending their right to that very pacifism which is one of the many civilising voices that make my country worth defending.
If your white poppy comes from a place of contempt, a place of derision, of me and mine, then it is false. If it comes from a place that believes mine own as nothing more than blood thirsty cannon fodder , blinded by jingoism to the motives of a political elite, then it is false.
If you hold yourself as somehow intellectually and karmically superior to those who’s blood secures your freedom to do so, then it is false.
If your patriotism, wrapping yourself in flags and poppies and sending working class boys and girls(who’ve often joined to escape poverty, and make a better life) to their deaths without one single thought to the aftermath, it is false.
If your patriotism means defending the very status quo that ensures a steady supply of said cannon fodder, then your patriotism is false.
If your patriotism is about rejecting the weak, the migrant, the vanquished and the refugee, it is false.
If your patriotism is co-opting the flag, and wearing a red poppy, whilst you reward the wounded(that you sent to war) with cuts in compensation, benefits, and the bedroom tax, then it is false.
If your patriotism means making soldiers redundant seventy two hours before they qualify for service pensions, it is false.
If your patriotism means making the country steadily worse whilst those who serve-do so-in the hope of a better world, then it is false.
If your patriotism means spilling the blood of men and women, whilst you sell off the NHS,so that one day those self same wounded may find the healthcare they need unaffordable , then it is false.
If, if you ape, and doff your cap, to a class of people who hate you, and yours, and hold you in no more esteem than as cannon fodder, then your patriotism is false.
If you use a white poppy to answer a question you will never be asked, because of the sacrifices of those who were asked,glibly and with disdain, then your white poppy is false.
Many conscientious objectors died in sewer like quagmires of blood, shit and fear, and earned VCs , as stretcher bearers and medics* – because they answered that question with a selfless courage that even the most hardened soldier admires, and shames the rest of us.
Many others answered that question by fighting gladly against frankly satanic regimes, for a better world thereafter. They would not wish to be associated with those who think this, and the progress it birthed, a mistake.
So if wearing any poppy associates me with such hypocrites and their falsities, then you’ll forgive me, a veteran , for not doing so.
Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori.
*and down mines, etc. Also, would you call the likes of Quakers, cowards?
** I wear a poppy for two minutes, two. And I also donate to the White poppy. They say as many as 55 million civilians died in WW2, think on that.