When I saw white poppies among the red, I found myself thinking of the white feather they used to give to men years ago, who came up short in the bravery department. Curious as to why they were there, I investigated further and discovered they represented peace, and not intended in any way to be an insult to all those brave soldiers who died on a battlefield. I was glad to read that. Well, these days you never know what they will come up with next, do you, what with all the different coloured ribbons for this and that.
White poppies first appeared in England in 1933, to remember the casualties of all wars. They are a pledge to peace, that war must not happen again and are a symbol to challenge the continuing drive to perpetuate the idea of war.
I was born during the war, and my father died in France before he ever had a chance to meet me. When those scarlet poppy petals fall from the ceiling in the Albert Hall every year on Rembrance Sunday, I acknowledge that one of them is for him. I think he would have loved the idea of the white ones too.
This week I have been watching the television mini-series ‘The Passing Bells’, written by Tony Jordan, and really enjoying the way the writer has portrayed the two young soldiers, one English and one German during the First World War. At first glance, it appears as one war, one country and one people, and the similarity of the opposing sides is profound.
The writer has removed the language barrier, leaving very little clue as to who is who or where they are, cleverly emphasising how alike we all are. At times a little confusing, but it leaves you in no doubt that all wars are senseless and must be abolished.
Poppies are beautiful, as all remembrances are, but maybe it is time to stop glorifying all the killing.