It’s that time of year again (no not THAT time – not yet!) where the self-appointed policers of poppy etiquette vent their spleen toward unsuspecting non-conformists with their pious strictures.
Delivered as either pompous lectures or through the media of ‘heart-warming’ (but not necessarily accurate) tales of conversational interactions, these lectures on etiquette are baseless in civilian life.
Military Officers charged with discipline rightly dictate how poppies are worn with uniform; but to us mere civilians there are no dogmatic principles to follow for personal adornment.
As the Poppy Appeal is a huge fundraising drive from the Royal British Legion, perhaps we should seek recourse to their advice and guidelines:
- Inspired by John McCrae’s 1915 poem ‘In Flanders’ Field’, an American War Secretary, Moina Michael, bought poppies to sell to her friends to raise money for Servicemen in need after the First World War. The symbol of the poppy represents Remembrance of the past and hope for the future.
- The poppy is red because of the natural colour of field poppies. It is NOT red to reflect the colour of blood. The poppy is a humble, neutral and universal symbol of Remembrance and hope.
- There is no right or wrong way to wear a poppy. It is a matter of personal choice whether an individual chooses to wear a poppy and also how they choose to wear it. The best way wear a poppy, is to wear it with pride.
- The correct time to wear a poppy is whenever you wish to show your support for the British Armed Forces past and present. Traditionally, the Poppy Appeal runs for the two weeks leading up to Armistice Day or Remembrance Sunday, whichever is later.
- We take the view that the poppy represents sacrifices made in the defence of freedom; and so the decision to wear it must be a matter of personal choice. If the poppy became compulsory it would lose its meaning and significance.
- We are thankful for every poppy worn, every shop that allows poppy collections, and every employer that permits the poppy to be displayed – but we never insist upon these things or claim a natural right. To do otherwise would not only be contrary to the spirit of Remembrance but all that the poppy stands for.
The text highlighted in bold is key. Wearing one is a personal choice – those that paid the ultimate sacrifice fell to protect (inter alia) the freedoms that we hold dear.
Your poppy represents what you want it to.
The wearing of poppies has to be personal choice – akin to the wearing of charity wrist bands or badges. It is a public showing of your support. If I chose to display an outward token of support for every worthwhile charity or cause, I’d have so many rubber bands, I’d look like a multi-coloured ‘Michelin Man’. That I don’t wear them is NOT indicative of a lack of empathy or support on my part.
Badges, pins, T-shirts, hoodies, hijabs, handkerchiefs…wear them all, or wear none. Your choice. Just don’t inflict your views on others – that’s how arguments start…
For the record, I’ll be wearing mine with pride – for me, it symbolises remembrance, gratitude, support for our Armed Forces, and a hope that future generations never again know of the suffering and sacrifices made through such brutal conflicts.
To those who are offended by my poppy – I couldn’t care less.
To those who don’t want to wear a poppy (for whatever reason) – I couldn’t care less.
To those who wear their poppy in whatever spirit you hold dear – oh look, we share a common opinion.
In good Royal Navy style, “that is all”.
What are your thoughts on the when/if/how to wear a poppy? Let everyone know in the comments section below.
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