It seems to me that, these days, wearing a poppy is too often regarded as a test of patriotism. Or, rather, those who don’t wear one are seen as being somehow disloyal to their country – not standing shoulder to shoulder with our troops on the front line. There is also an unseemly ostentation in the way many politicians and some celebrities use the poppy to bolster their images and egos.
Let’s go back about 90 years to when the poppy first became the symbol of remembrance. Almost every family in the country was in mourning. The war had not been a magnificent adventure, as promised, but four years of pointless, industrialised slaughter. In retrospect, there could only be one justification for it: it had been the war to end all wars.
The traditions of remembrance established shortly afterwards conveyed two messages: shared grief and the common pledge that war must never happen again.