Last year, I became very aware of Remembrance Day, the poppies people were choosing to wear and specifically what each one represented. At this point, I decided to change the way I remembered wars on Armistice Day by wearing a white poppy because I had never worn either poppy before and now realised what they symbolised.
As you can find out on the Peace Pledge Union website, the white poppy represents remembrance for all victims of war, a commitment to peace and a challenge to attempts to glamorise or celebrate war. This is in comparison to the red poppy which supports the Armed Forces past and present to remember those who fought in the wars as part of the British Armed Forces. Researching and thinking lots about my own principles and about what each poppy and it’s organisation represents has helped me come to the decision to support the white poppy appeal instead of the red poppy appeal.
I support global peace.
One of my principles which I feel very strongly about is my support of peace and opposition to war, violence and especially the army. This is why I can’t support the red poppy appeal because I don’t want to support any form of the armed forces in the present or future, or the weapons companies which can benefit from the support of the red poppy. I do want to be able to remember victims of wars like World War One and Two, but I don’t want to support any further violence and wish to remember everyone in the world who has died at the hands of violence during wars, not only the people fighting with guns.
Recently I watched the film ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ starring Andrew Garfield. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to watching the film because a lot of the time I don’t enjoy films about real wars because I realise the extent of the death that occurred which makes me feel unhappy. However, this film was “the true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Doss was drafted and ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life - without firing a shot - to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa.”
I didn’t know the story of Pfc. Doss before watching this film, but hearing a true story of such a courageous conscientious objector really shows everyone how the real bravery is never in the weapons or the war or the killing, it is all about how many lives we can save in our own little way. This film has really stuck with me in the way that it has shown me another side of the wars that have been fought and the people who were involved in them.
We are all entitled to our own opinion.
Another point I wish to make is about how I may have chosen to support the white poppy appeal and be explaining where I stand on this topic, but I don’t for one moment wish for anyone to follow what I say without doing their own personal research and thinking or that they should become angry or disapproving of my choice if they feel differently.
Everyone in our world is entitled to their own choice of opinion, I think we should all have these opinions based on personal reflection and research but we should all have them regardless. This means that I become increasingly frustrated by people who see not wearing a poppy or wearing a white poppy as doing something wrong or being disrespectful of the dead or not supporting their country. In my opinion, people who say this or argue this against people who don’t wish to wear a red poppy have simply not done their research into what it means to wear any poppy in the first place. No poppy is compulsory, every poppy represent something different to each individual and every person has a right to choose their own views and the ways they wish to express them.
I'm not wearing a poppy this year. I think it is shifting from a symbol remembering war's horror, to a symbol of war-hungry nationalism.— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) November 3, 2017
I want my remembering and respect to be indiscriminate.
I am very supportive of remembering our history and ancestry, but I wish to do this indiscriminately of country or war and believe we can do this while learning from what has happened to make everyone’s lives better and prevent such horror from reoccurring. I realise that this is a big ask but by supporting a charity of peace over a charity for the army, I feel I am already supporting the right cause for my personal principles. I feel very strongly about peace in our world and feel continually frustrated when it is ignored or deemed to be unrealistic so I really hope that over my life I will be able to help contribute to global peace even in the smallest of ways.
I hope everyone thinks deeply this year about why they wish to wear a poppy and which one they wish to wear. This may seem like a small thing but it can help you to develop your own principles and views at the core of what you believe in so that you are able to make more complex decisions using these principles as your guidance.
The Royal British Legion | UK charity for British Armed Forces, reservists, veterans and their families