There should be no need to remind anyone in the UK that today, the eleventh day of the eleventh month is Remembrance Day. The poppy, symbol of remembrance is worn on the left side, over the heart by the wearer in remembrance of those men and women that have given their lives for our country.
During the first world war, in Flanders (Western Belgium), most of this expanse of land was ripped apart, towns, landmarks, vegetation were systematically eradicated from existence by artillery bombardment. The land was turned into a sea of mud, in this mud men continued to fight one another whilst surrounded by the dead and dying. Each new artillery bombardment would churn the muddy ground revealing corpses of lost soldiers – a truly horrific sight for the young men that continued to fight the war of attrition. During each coming spring an enduring flower would appear, the poppy. Poppies only grow from freshly churned soil, the war torn landscape being the perfect environment for them to germinate, they grew in such abundance on the battlefields that it was superstitiously believed that each one was grown from the soul of a fallen soldier.
Today we do not simply reflect on the human atrocity conducted during the first world war, Remembrance Day is about all wars that have taken lives, on both sides. With all of our advances in culture, science, medicine, philosophy it’s hard to comprehend why we continue to kill one another, but it seems part of our nature for now. But, for all of our misgivings there is no reason why we should ever forget those men and women who have laid down their lives for our country, our freedom and peace.
This coming remembrance Sunday, raise your glass to the fallen. Or, instead of buying that pint, consider giving the money to help our veterans, you can donate at www.poppy.org.uk.