Thursday, 27 October 2016

Wearing a White Poppy

The White Poppy and the Red Poppy are two sides of the same coin. But how will we use it?
Both poppies have a great history.
The White Poppy began to be sold in 1933. It was to stand for all war deaths, an end to wars, and for peace. This came after the 1928 international Kellogg Briand Pact where leading nations agreed to renounce and outlaw war.
A 100 years ago, 90% of the deaths in war were of soldiers. Now, the case for the white poppy is stronger than ever, as 90% of deaths in modern wars, are deaths of civilians. Of those 'dying for their country' now, only 1 in 10 are soldiers.
A lot of people don't know the backstory to the Red Poppy.
In 1918 when the men came back from war, they were furious. They had watched so many of their friends die - in slaughter - in murder as the last veteran told us a few years ago - in the 'war to end all wars' - and which didn't. They had seen so many of their brave comrades cut down, lions led by donkeys.
Officials recognised that something had to be done to help defuse the anger of the hundreds of thousands of men, all trained in arms, who were returning to their country – and to be forgotten by the ruling system.
General Haig was very aware of this anger and wished to support ex-soldiers but also to protect the status quo. So the British Legion was born.
The British Legion soaked up the other ex-servicemen's organisations - except, notably, the NUX, the National Union of Ex-servicemen, which survived until 1922.
Soon Haig and the British Legion adopted the red poppy - via America and France - and this was first sold around the country in 1921, in memory of the military dead.
In 1922 the hundreds of thousands of NUX members were encouraged to join the Labour Party, and others, to work for a fairer country.
In 1923, the Labour Party helped form the government for the first time, and former servicemen became part of the first attempt to create a 'land fit for heroes'.
The question now is: in a country at war for most of this century, so far, and daily taught to hate enemy countries, and many groups of people, what do we know about peace?

Martin Deane

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