Monday, November 14, 2011

The Poppy and Veterans Day

On Veterans Day (here in the US, otherwise known as Remembrance Day for those of you elsewhere), I wore a red poppy facsimile in the lapel of my coat.  As many of you undoubtedly know, this is a tradition going back to shortly after World War I, taking its meaning from the poem In Flanders Fields by LtCol John McCrae of the Royal Canadian Army, in commemoration of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in time of war.

This particular poppy that I wore is one that I have had for several years, and which I carefully secure after wearing it on Veterans Day and Memorial Day each year.  It holds no unique sentimental value, other than the obvious, but I make sure that it is secured each time for future use because it is so difficult to find one in this area, since this state of Oregon, bluer than blue politically, is not what one would call enamoured of veterans or the military.

The historic local county courthouse is conspicuously (some locals have said proudly) bare of a memorial to the war dead of the area’s history (there is one relegated to the National Guard armory instead).  In its place, there are weekly demonstrations of war protestors (perhaps a dozen or so now) who were more numerous and conspicuous until Obama was elected.  Other than the necessary county business that I need to do on occasion, the place is anathema to me.  There are those amongst the local inhabitants who feel as I do (some recognised the poppy and thanked me, and asked where I had found one), and thus we melancholy few are not with those who feel that they should be paid for existing, and mustn’t pay for their sins.  (Not surprisingly or coincidentally, Oregon has the largest unchurched per capita population in the US.)

Traditional commemoration of a nation’s war dead is under attack elsewhere.  John Hinderaker of Powerline reports on an exhibition soccer game between England and the world champion team from Spain that was scheduled for Remembrance Day, at Wembley Stadium.  The English were steeled for an uphill battle against the superior-ranked Spanish team, but the contest became all the more contentious over England’s plan to wear embroidered poppies on their uniforms.  The world governing body for soccer – FIFA (“the corrupt international soccer bureaucracy that hates England for (at a minimum) blowing the whistle on its corruption”) – declared that the poppy should be banned from display because it is a “political statement”.

From whence does this deplorable nonsense stem?  Naturally, from the political sensitivities of the Left.  There is a move from them to have their adherents wear a white poppy rather than a red one.  “They view the former as a symbol of peace and the latter as a symbol of war.”  A century of non-adversarial sentiment of honouring a nation’s war dead is now added to the targets of the socialist vanguard.  Fortunately, the English held tough, and FIFA allowed them to wear poppies on an armband as a compromise, aided by the very real threat that England would cancel the match over the issue.  England’s stand-in team captain, Frank Lampard, explained:
As players we do a lot of work with the military boys and, if we were to be running out and not showing our respects, we would be letting them down.  It is something the players felt very strongly about.  I’m very proud of the freedoms we have and why we have got them.  To live the life we live is due to the people who fought and died in wars.  We should never forget that.  I went to my daughters’ school assembly earlier this week and the headmaster was telling all the kids, at a very diverse school with kids from all over the world, what it means to wear a poppy.  I came away feeling quite proud that is what we teach our kids.
The entire stadium was decked out in poppies, including on the jacket of England’s Italian coach, Fabio Capello.

England won the match, 1-0.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this article. It had not occurred to me that, since arriving here in the Willamette Valley, I haven't seen a single individual selling poppies, something that, while I lived in Texas or Kansas, was as regular an occurance on Veteran's and Memorial Days as rain is in Oregon.


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