Monday, 3 November 2014

Before you judge me, please listen to why I don't wear a poppy.

At this time of year I am surrounded by poppies and it's not uncommon for someone to comment disapprovingly about the fact that I'm not wearing one - you'd think I'd be used to it by now as I've not worn a poppy for 25 years.

But before you assume that my decision comes from a lack of respect, let me assure you that I have the deepest regard for past and present members of the armed services.  Many of my extended family have or are still serving and my mum and her three brothers all played their part in WW2, in fact my Uncle Geoff was a Japanese prison of war who worked on The Bridge over the Rover Kwai, so I have every reason to show my support.

When I was in school I was one of those who volunteered each year to sell poppies at break times and prior to 1989 I would not have dreamt of being without a poppy in the weeks running up to Remembrance Sunday, but events that year changed the significance of the poppy for me and I've not been able to wear one since.

On Sunday November 12th 1989, the last thing we watched on TV before going to bed was the service from the Royal Albert Hall and that always poignant moment when the poppies fall from the roof.  Shortly after midnight the telephone rang - it was the hospital telling us that we needed to come in as there was a problem with Daniel.  We knew that it was serious for them to have called us, but we had no idea of what we were to find when we arrived, Daniel was gone, his short life had stopped after just 100 days.

For me not wearing a poppy has nothing remotely to do with lack of respect for Rememberance Sunday and the sentiment behind it, but everything to do with what that event in 1989 has caused me to associate with the poppy and it is just too emotional a symbol for me to cope with, even after all these years.

So perhaps before you assume that someone without a poppy has no respect, you'll wonder if there is possibly another reason.