Killing the White Poppy

As always, humans are up in arms about stuff right now. The thing I’ve been reading about today is the white poppy.

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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 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.

– Douglas MacArthur

Any soldier worth his salt should be antiwar. And still there are things worth fighting for.

– Norman Schwarzkopf

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.

– William Tecumseh Sherman

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.

– John Paul Jones

No one hates war like a soldier hates war.

– Tommy Franks

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

We know how to win wars. We must learn now to win peace…
– Stephen E. Ambrose, Band of Brothers



4 thoughts on “Killing the White Poppy

  1. emerge says:

    Nicely done, Di! And YOWSA you found some good quotes. The assertionist haters do not have words on their side on this one.

    Do you want this reposted or left quiet?

  2. Julianne says:

    I haven’t worn a poppy in years yet it does not mean I have forgotten. In fact, I think about war and those who fought for our “freedom” on a regular basis, not just on Remembrance Day but everyday, but furthermore, I think about my role and what I can do to keep war from happening again. I object the Red Poppy as I don’t believe it is a symbol to commemorate our fallen soldiers but something people just wear out of habit and to push political and military agendas. If the message lest we forget was being heard, the world would not be in the state it’s in and we would not be repeating history. We would have learned that hate and greed are not what will bring us where we want the world to be. I don’t believe I need to wear a plastic flower on my lapel to show that I remember the carnage and that I will be thinking of all the people who gave up their lives so I could have mine. If people were really concerned about honouring the fallen soldiers, then they would take an active role in educating themselves and take steps to ensure they weren’t unwillingly contributing to today’s wars. Actions speak louder than words and wearing a poppy simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

  3. Mama says:

    Well said, Diana and Julianne.

    I, too, decided on no poppy at all. It’s not a clear enough message. I don’t know what anyone is trying to say.

    I’m reminded of the time I was in Nashville, Tennessee, during the Iraq war on a Thursday, the day of the week in which a number of Nashville women (as well as similar groups in other cities) came together to stand, black-clad, on the walkway over a well-travelled traffic bridge, in silence, to mourn the war and pray for peace. I joined them, and as we stood there, a man walked up on the other side, put down a bag, withdrew from it a couple of banners, leaned one against the railing, and held the other up. It said “Support Our Troops” or the like. The other banner said something similar. My friend whispered in my ear, “He comes every week. We just quietly pray for him.” That sounded appropriate to me. We went on standing. Drivers of some of the passing cars waved to us, some to the man on the other side. It was all uneventful — until a young woman marched up to the man, looked at his banner, then reached over and picked up and brandished the other one. In a moment, she started shouting at us. Things like: “My husband is over there, fighting for YOUR freedom, and you are disrespecting him!” and “How can you stand there like that when our boys are dying for this country?” She continued to heckle, and the group of women with whom I stood grew somewhat uncomfortable and restive. My friend whispered, “We haven’t seen HER before.” After awhile I thought, well, I have nothing to lose, I won’t be back, so she can’t hold me against this group I’m with,” and I crossed the street. I remember her face as I walked toward her. Her expression was apprehensive, as if to say, “Wai..wai..wait, what’s happening here?” I went and stood beside her while she stared belligerently at me. I didn’t say, Your husband isn’t fighting for freedom – he’s fighting for oil and national domination. I didn’t say, Our country has no business over there in the Middle East. I said, “I’m sorry that your husband is in danger.” She looked less wary. I said, “We would like him to be safe.” She looked interested. I said, “We would like there to be peace, so that people like your husband wouldn’t have to risk their lives. We think the best way to support our troops is to bring them home to their families. Don’t you?” She said something like, “I would love that.” We didn’t really have much of a conversation, but I did manage, I think, to convey that a wish for peace was NOT disrespect for the fighting men. I knew that for many young men the army seemed a reasonable career choice, at least for awhile, and that many joined to get their university education paid for, and that it was unlikely any of them expected actually to go to war. And it wasn’t their choice. I don’t think I said all those things, but they were in my mind as we spoke, briefly. I said, “I hope your husband comes home safely,” and then I went back across the street. After a few moments, she put down the banner and left. The man, who had heard our entire conversation without speaking, stayed there the rest of the hour until the Women in Black left.

    If only we could talk to each other more!

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