Monday, 25 November 2013

A reflection on the war dead

Red for peace, white for ............
November is the month of the Holy Souls and the month where  also, on Remembrance Sunday, we remember those who sacrificed their lives  in times of war so that we could be free from slavery and genocide.

The red poppy is a symbol (as well as being a fund raising tool for disabled service men and women) of that sacrifice.

The link to the poppies of Flanders fields, almost as prolific as the German and Allied Forces corpses, is a poignant one that encourages us to remember with sorrow and gratitude.

It is not triumphalist, it does not represent war or victory or glorification of battlefield slaughter.

A kind reader commented on my Remembrance Sunday post, that he was not familiar with the white poppy campaign, one that, ostensibly symbolises peace rather than war.

This stance rather leads to a 'when did you stop beating your wife' situation as far as the red poppy wearer is concerned.

Those who wear the white poppy are, in my opinion, gravely deluded. They are ignorant.

We tend to link to opposites so, if the white poppy stands for peace, the red must stand for war.

Not so.

To me the white poppy represents not peace but pacifism and, again, with our love of opposites, it is assumed that, if you are anti pacifism you must be a warmonger

Again, not so.

I have little time for war but, equally, little respect for those who advocate pacifism at the time of war.

Many Quakers have struggled with their consciences and then, God bless them, signed up for duties as medics, stretcher bearers, ambulance drivers. Tasks often more hazardous than those undertaken by the troops.

There is no hiding place for the conscientious objector when your own country goes to war.

We are all bound to get behind our respective governments at such times and bind together for the common good.

Few of us wanted the Iraq War but, once committed, we should have supported our leaders and, above all, our military.

That is why the symbolism of the white poppy brigade is iniquitous and those who wear one should hang their heads in shame.

Was it Belloc who penned the lines:

"Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight, but Roaring Bill ( who killed him)  thought it right"

That should be writ large on the headstones of those who spurn the red for the white.


  1. Perhaps these people should be given a white feather, to match their poppy?

    Ian in England

  2. Yes, it was indeed Belloc who wrote the "Pale Ebenezer" couplet.

    Does any other reader of this website share my disgust at the way the BBC, the Telegraph, etc., etc., etc., have been falling over themselves to portray Benjamin Britten (his centenary fell on the 22nd) as some sort of plaster saint? When not only was he a pacifist and physical poltroon, but his unhealthy interest in boys would (fortunately) these days prevent him from getting a "work with children" police clearance?

    At least Michael Tippett, another overrated composer and another homosexual pacifist, went to prison during the war as a conchie. This proves he was an idiot, but least an idiot with a certain moral courage. Britten, by contrast, didn't suffer a scintilla of inconvenience for his cowardice.

    1. Yes, I too am sick to the back teeth of hearing about and from this noxious Britten. I have been turning the wireless off, or over, rather a lot, recently.