Over on his excellent and thought provoking blog Leaving Munster, Graham has been writing about his attitudes and response to the wearing of a red poppy.
It's a subject that I have often wrestled with and so I replied to his posting there, but also thought I'd like to hear your points of view. Essentially Graham argues that the wearing of the red poppy, coupled with a nationwide act of remembrance where every soldier who died is lumped together as valiant and noble perpetuates the myth that war solves things, and glorifies the sacrifice of armed service personnel.
Here's my response - what do you think?
It's a great and powerful post, thanks Graham.
And yet, I do feel conflicted. On the one hand I hate that war occurs and I hate that people die. On the other, I live in relative freedom, one that in all truth I doubt I'd live in if certainly the second world war had been lost.
I also feel torn that there are people who - whether I like it or not - fight in my name. I'm not relinquishing my British citizenship anytime soon.
And when the Govt doesn't support ex-service personnel well (regardless of whether they saw active service or not) the wearing of a red poppy might at least make a small donation, and show support for the charity, not necessarily the wars that were fought. It seems in many ways to be an anti-war statement to wear one, if the true meaning is understood. We wear the poppy because people die in wars, ergo, war is a bad thing.
I'm sure that I am totally biased, I grew up in a military household, and both my grandfather and father saw active service, my brother who serves still has spent time in the Gulf.
So, what do we do with that? The work and the intent of the Royal British Legion (as much as we might wish that the govt would - if it's going to wage wars - take care of people and thus make them redundant) is to be applauded and supported, no?
So, I hate war.
This Sunday I'll be teaching a little about St Martin. Since the 4th Century sections of the Church have remembered him on 11th November. He was converted to Christianity in late childhood, and was forced to join the cavalry in the Roman army aged 15.The famous part of his story is that upon seeing a beggar at the gates to Amiens he cut his cloak in half, giving half to the beggar. His had a dream that night, where he pictured Jesus wearing the half cloak, and saying "I have been cloaked by Martin, the Roman soldier". Martin asked to leave the army, convinced that it conflicted with his faith, and was accused of being a coward. He offered to go ahead of the army, unarmed, to prove the issue was not one of bravery. He never had to as they enemy made peace, and he was discharged. He is probably the earliest recorded Christian conscientious objector.
As I speak, I'll be wearing a red poppy.