Remembrance Today: Poppies, Grief and Heroism

by Ted Harrison

Reaktion Books

Every nation has its own way of remembering those killed in conflict. Each November Remembrance follows a seemingly unchanging pattern. Millions of people wear poppies, and at war memorials around the world a period of silence is observed. Today young people are taught that through Remembrance we thank those who have given their lives to defend liberty and freedom. But when poppy wearing began after the First World War it had rather a different purpose. The flowers of Flanders Field were worn in grief and as an expression of hope that war would never happen again.

Remembrance Today poses questions that need to be answered. What does it mean to be heroic? What, in the context of military service, does glory mean? But most fundamental of all – what is the purpose of Remembrance? If Remembrance does not serve as a warning against conflict, and if it is not a reminder to peoples to rededicate themselves to peace, then Remembrance is futile. This book is a urgent examination of how and why our notions of heroism, of duty and of grief have become confused over time and calls for a refocusing of Remembrance that will return us to its original purpose.

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