I am not going to enter the “to poppy or to not poppy” debate. That, I suspect will roll on and on: is it purely political; is it disrespectful to those that gave their lives; are service men and women asking for it, as they “chose to join up and fight wars” (a statement I believe to be false, incidentally…and is another topic all of it’s own!) But what I will say is, as an ex military nurse and wife of a serviceman, Remembrance Day is always deeply poignant.
It’s a time to remember and reflect. To think of fallen friends and those that gave their lives many years ago and more recently. It is also a time, I think, to give some thought to those that have survived war, but who now carry permanent scars. Be it due to physical injury or emotional (mental) injury. Whether they be service men or women or the families. They live every day with those wounds. In many ways, they are the forgotten ones.
War has captivated me since I was a young child. Specifically, WW1 to present day and the role of the British military medical and nursing services within it. It led me to become a bit of a war history geek; travel to France, Belgium and Germany visiting WW1 and WW2 battle sites, cemeteries, museums and monuments; and eventually I joined the military myself and trained as a nurse.
It is not some weird macabre fascination. It is an overwhelming desire to know and try to understand the events, emotions and general atmosphere. Above all, it is a need to remember the facts and to make sure they continue to be told to future generations.
In many ways it’s hard to comprehend the sense of National pride and coming together of a Nation that was experienced during the two Great Wars. We don’t engage in that sort of behaviour these days. Very rarely do we do something just to help others without some political, financial or personal gain. There is no war time spirit, no rationing, no rallying together or doing good deeds. We hold those that offer to help us for no reason, with grave suspicion. Have we have lost a key component of what being British is/was all about? Have we lost our ability to understand what the act of remembrance was initially all about?
Whatever your personal views are on wearing a poppy or Britain’s involvement in recent and current conflicts, perhaps we should all put those aside for a few moments and just reflect. I certainly will be.