As always, humans are up in arms about stuff right now. The thing I’ve been reading about today is the white poppy.
Traditionally, the red poppy is worn to remember and honour war veterans, both living and dead. In the past, I’ve worn a red poppy to indicate that I am thinking prayerfully of soldiers, like my grandpa, who did what they felt they had to do, and experienced things no human should have to experience, in the pursuit of an end to conflict.
Every year on Remembrance Day, I also think about the others who have made (and continue to make) sacrifices in times of war. All those who die or are broken or see their lives torn apart. They are innumerable.
That is what I understand the white poppy to be about: the recognition that peace is the goal. That war equals tragedy. Lest we forget.
In the past few years, I’ve been aware of another belief: that by honouring those other people, the civilians, or by expressing the wish to make peace a priority, I am disrespecting the soldiers and veterans.
I am not wearing a white poppy… because I do not want my message to be mistaken.
The “I Remember for Peace” campaign at Ceasefire.ca has elicited many heartfelt messages from people who wish to respect soldiers and veterans and also honour their pursuit of peace. Inevitably, there are people who feel it’s appropriate to add messages like these:
“White poppies are bull shit and everyone involved in this should be shot.”
“wear a white poppy? expect a white loogy in return for spitting in the face of every soldier who sacrificed their blood on the battle fields so you can have the rights and freedoms you enjoy today. I will gladly spit in the face of anyone I see wearing a white poppy and I will be encouraging others to do the same.”
Incredibly, these people believe that they are showing respect. I am not wearing a red poppy this year because I know these people are wearing them. Again, I do not want my message to be mistaken.
Every year since I’ve been blogging, I have posted on Remembrance Day (and Veterans Day). This year, I am giving the floor to veterans. Even so, I know there will be people who read this and want to spew ugliness over it. I’ve decided that tomorrow, I am just going to be silent, and show my respect that way.
The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
Any soldier worth his salt should be antiwar. And still there are things worth fighting for.
I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.
An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this War should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it.
No one hates war like a soldier hates war.
War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower