Sunday, 8 November 2009

Wearing white

Today I will be wearing a white poppy as a symbol of remembrance and of hope for a more peaceful future. White poppies have been worn since 1933, when they were first produced by the Co operative Women's Guild with the intention of decoupling remembrance from its military culture.

An article in yesterday's Guardian suggests that the mainstream interpretation of remembrance has moved away from its original aim of preventing the horrors of war from ever being allowed to happen again, and has recast the dead as soldiers in just conflicts. Today, the politicians who led us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will lay wreaths at the Cenotaph, while to question the pervasive pressure to wear the red poppy is seen as perversely offensive.

This is not a political blog and I have nothing against those who make a considered choice to wear the red poppy, in fact I have often worn red and white together myself. This Remembrance Sunday, however, falls during a disastrous period for British troops in Afghanistan, with seven soldiers killed in the past week alone. For me, therefore, it is important to stand up and wear my white poppy for all those who have been affected by war: military and civilian, British and non-British, families and children, soldiers and conscientious objectors.

I thought I would leave you with this painting by Georgia O'Keefe: Poppies, 1950, to brighten up a grey Remembrance Sunday.

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