The Poppy. Evocative. Emotional. Divisive?
As we remember those who have fallen, as well as those who survived and all the families involved, the significance of the Poppy raises its divisive and conciliatory head in 2010.
It has been reported already that Margaret Ritchie will, as a leader of Nationalism, wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday. Conall Mcdevitt also sets out his take on his Leader doing this as showing some element of respect and remembrance.
The Poppy has also been in the news due to people associating with divisive issues. Recently Jonathan Bell MLA highlighted an issue where a manager in EXTERN asked staff to hide their poppies.
The BBC’s Director General has recently been contacted by solicitors representing a member of Relatives For Justice demanding an explicit explanation of their policy surrounding the wearing of poppies. The policy the solicitors want to be clarified to basically no poppies on show. The BBC were also criticised on a UK basis for encouraging their presenters to wear poppies too early.
And the issue of Poppy wearing is not restricted to Northern Ireland, BBC reported that Hollister in Hampshire, England has been caught up in a similar controversy with staff wearing the Poppy
There was also the issue of Celtic football fans held banners describing the remembrance poppy as "bloodstained".
Personally, I think Poppies are a symbol that does not glorify war or conflict. The Celtic fans were right, it is blood stained. That is the point. Poppies symbolise the whole concept that we should never forget the sacrifices of others be they combatant or non-combatant. We should celebrate the issue of personal bravery in adversity. It symbolises John 15:13 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' It should not glorify war, nor promote bloodthirsty nationalistic pride. It should remind us of why there should be no more wars or conflict. It should reinforce pacifism. It should remind us to treat others as we would like to be treated. It should remind us that we should, no matter how we view the world or government, that men and women who have died in conflict should be remembered with dignity, the injured should be treated as a priority, families should not be forgotten and society should be more responsive to all those in need help and understanding.
I will remember them on Sunday. What ever your own belief on the issue, I hope you will at least pause to think about how we as a society can learn from a violent past to build a peaceful future.