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Remembrance Sunday - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Remembrance Sunday
I have always in the past bought a poppy to wear around the time of Remembrance Sunday and the actual Remembrance Day on 11 November. But not this year.

It's 100 years since the First World War began and OK, it was a huge and traumatic event. Both my grandfathers fought in the trenches and one nearly died from his wounds. My maternal grandfather may have avoided physical injury, but I don't know what it did to him mentally. But there has just been too much war commemoration this year for my liking and increasingly the Remembrance commemoration is in danger of turning into a jingoistic celebration of militarism.

When the Royal British Legion celebrates the success of its poppy day by saying things like:

"For seven hours, more than 100 serving personnel, veterans and volunteers braved the bad weather to collect thousands of pounds from the public. The Legion’s Poppy Appeal campaign funds direct welfare and support to the Armed Forces community and this year is focused on Forces families."

and support the article with photos of kids carrying giant poppies and wearing t-shirts saying, "Future Soldier," they are not having a penny more of my money. Ever.

future soldier

In the past, the British Legion fund raising has supposedly been for ex-service men and women injured in war. This seems like a definite shift to supporting currently serving Armed Forces personnel, who if they need care and support should bloody well be cared for and supported by their employers, ie the government.

I used to see Remembrance Day as poignant and a reminder that it shouldn't ever happen again, but recent governments seem increasingly happy to drag us into yet more wars, so what, exactly, are we remembering?

Current Mood: sad sad

14 comments or Leave a comment
From: arkessian Date: November 9th, 2014 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I decided not to buy a poppy when I heard the "Official Poppy Appeal Single" and realised they'd left out the real meat of the original -- if I hadn't owned the June Tabor version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWhOO9Q323Y) I'd never have known.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 9th, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for that link. I was familiar with the song, though I'm not sure whether it was that version I've heard before.

But I followed your link and listened to the whole song and June Tabor's treatment was perfect, it sent tingles up my spine and tears to my eyes. The "official" version? I managed about 30 seconds and then stopped it in disgust.
owlfish From: owlfish Date: November 10th, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
As a bonus, the RBL failed to ask for permission to cover the song, which is still very definitely in copyright.
From: cmcmck Date: November 10th, 2014 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't imagine Eric Bogle would be amused- he wrote the song!

Edited at 2014-11-10 04:28 pm (UTC)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 9th, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought this comment on the Youtube for the Joss Stone version absolutely nailed it. Someone called Thomas Thurman commented:

Well, how do you do, Private Willie McBride,
May I borrow your story for poppies and pride?
For we need a new record to reach number one,
So I'm changing the lyrics, and I'm nearly done.
Now, I do love your song, but the horrors of war?
To be honest-- that's not what this single is for.
So please keep it quiet that we wasted your blood
As your lungs slowly filled with the Passchedaele mud.
Did they keep any verses? Thank God for small mercies.
Did you turn in your grave when our record went round?
Did they cut out the last verse and chorus?
Did thy mutilate "Flowers of the Forest"?
From: arkessian Date: November 10th, 2014 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that is spot-on!
readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: November 12th, 2014 10:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I hadn't seen this.
I did half listen to the song by Joss Stone but turned it off because sung by her it sounded schmaltzy. Had no idea of it's origin.
seaivy From: seaivy Date: November 9th, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good For YOU!!!!

We haven't had poppies here in the USA for years
Veterans organization used to sell red ones.
Then other organizations wanted in - soon there were white poppies and blue poppies and green poppies - and no one knew what was what

pity we can't start a Poppies For Peace campaign.

For you WW1 was devastating - it should be remembered with deep sorrow

heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: November 9th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I was at school and even much more recently, the mood around poppies was sombre, anti-war (a "this mustn't happen again" feeling) and was all about supporting those who had suffered injuries as a result of war. This government, in its pro-war stance, has subtly changed the message.

The white poppy I've been using as an icon for this post and comments was from the Peace Pledge Union, which was founded between the World Wars in 1934. I don't know whether you have something similar on your side of the Pond.

Edited at 2014-11-09 08:40 pm (UTC)
seaivy From: seaivy Date: November 9th, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read your link
How Splendid!!
We have nothing like it that i know of.
Over here pacifism got mixed in with the Viet Nam war and the counter culture.
And then came all the yellow ribbons of the first gulf war.
And it's just been going on.... sigh
khiemtran From: khiemtran Date: November 10th, 2014 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to say, I've been feeling the same way lately. Over here, it's Anzac Day rather than Remembrance Day, but there does seem to have been a slow shift away from remembrance and more into glorification of the military. Or maybe it's just that I'm getting older.
From: cmcmck Date: November 10th, 2014 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't wear the poppy. Never have.

I'm the daughter of a squaddy married to the son of a squaddy.

I donate money annually to our local regimental assistance fund which helps out local needy ex members rather than to the legion. This is the RE's HQ town. What is interesting is that a whole lot less 'red top media' fuss gets made in a genuine barracks town- people just know the bullshit and that's that.
elsewhereangel From: elsewhereangel Date: November 11th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
The juxtaposition of poppies and the text on those shirts is actually chilling to me.
readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: November 12th, 2014 10:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been meaning to get back to this before it disappeared down my page.

I can only endorse all the anti-war sentiments in the responses. Well said everyone. Well posted, Helen. (I have commented on seaivy's site this morning on a related strand.)


You may have seen the programme I reference: Teenage Tommies.
14 comments or Leave a comment