Today is Remembrance Sunday. Many will have watched the Queen lead the nation at the Cenotaph. Many others will have attended other Remembrance services held in churches and at war memorials across the nation. Virtually all will wear their poppy.
Such services are a very personal as well as a communal time as so many of us will have our own private memories of fallen friends and family. Many of us will have seen active service and it is at this time when memories of old comrades come back.
Yet even in this most private and communal activity there has crept in of late a note of discord – and we are not referring to those who choose to wear the white poppy.
British Gazette readers will not have failed to notice how over the years the custom of poppy wearing has changed. Years ago when I was a small boy I would be taken to church with Mum and Dad. It was at that time Mum and Dad would wear a poppy, Mum wearing it alongside her Women’s Land Army Badge. The church was invariably nearly full and looking up from my lower vantage point I would see many “grown ups” wearing their war medals.
Nowadays “personalities” on the TV and in the media have taken to wearing their poppy for some time before Remembrance Sunday. In addition, we now have TWO acts of Remembrance – today’s and the one scheduled for 11:00AM on Wednesday 11th.
Before the Second World War the Act of National Remembrance was carried out on Armistice Day, as it is still done in the USA. My late father recalled this and told me of the overwhelming sense of solemnity in the London of 1929 when so many of the men and women were recalling memories that were still so sharp and cruel.
After the Second World War it was decided to have the Act of National Remembrance on the nearest Sunday to Armistice Day. It seemed a sensible and reasonable development.
British Gazette readers may recall that back in the 1970s there were some commentators and politicians suggesting that the Act of National Remembrance be done away with on the grounds that it celebrated war.
Today however there is a new mood abroad. There has developed a sort of mob rule where celebrities are expected to wear poppies a fortnight beforehand and woe betide anyone who ignores the collective act on 11:00AM on Wednesday! That said, with a reported attendance (across all religions) at religious services of 9%, there is a case for an event where the majority of folk can pay their respects.
The British Gazette therefore appreciates that Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton has lent his voice to criticise the critics. Herewith a report in the International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/remembrance-sunday-uks-defence-chief-condemns-rise-poppy-stalinism-1527750