I wear a white poppy

I do not wear a red poppy as is my choice, no I am not being disrespectful to the dead. The red poppy makes me feel like I have a bullet wound upon my chest with its blood pouring out upon the streets as I walk in a strange empathy with those that fell on foreign streets and fields near and far, then and now. Everyone should be free to remember and mark this day in their own way, united in our respect the dead.

I do not wear a red poppy as it does not remind me of all the victims of war. We stop for two minutes silence remembering our fallen armed forces that give their lives but what of the innocent unarmed civilians killed or maimed in the name of war? If it symbolised our sorrow and regret to all that lose their lives in wars (i.e. all nationalities, armed forces and civilians alike) and not a select few, then I may wear a red one.

I do not wear a red poppy as war is painted with in history and the media as a heroic sacrifices and violence is necessary but it is really cruel, bloody and inglorious. How many of the armed forces return from their service changed forever by what they have experienced? Do we respect and honour those return from killing or maiming another human being, but lose part of themselves and/or forever haunted by their experiences?

I do not wear a red poppy as it is not only humans beings that have given their lives in war’s name but animals too. During World War I, dogs and pigeons were used to deliver messages between frontline trenches and further afield. Horses, donkeys and elephants have been used as beasts of burden. Today, animals continue to be used, for example to detect explosives. We rely on them so much but how soon we forget their aid.

I wear a white poppy as it is a symbol of the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts, and embodies values that reject killing fellow human beings for whatever reason. Over a hundred years ago the ‘war to end all wars‘ began and yet we still see wars around the world, but I dream on of peace.. Why a white poppy chosen to symbolise this nobody is certain but it wasn’t intended to compete with the red one, only to be different from it.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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The song of war

On this the 11th day of the 11th month I think of those that have given their lives physically and mentally in the name of war. Generations old and young lost in rivers of blood that flowed through Flanders Field and continue to this day. It is not only the fallen to think of but those that returned and replay the events in their minds unable to comprehend how and why.

The picture shows many crosses: I wrote one for Mr Glasgow, a childhood neighbour and prisoner in Japan that could not tell me of the horror he saw and heard; I also wrote one for my great uncle George that documented Africa through the lens of his camera with images of sadness and happiness; and finally I wrote one for the innocent bystanders that are nameless but not forgotten that war’s name has taken from their families.

A dreamer and ponderer I may be but I do not want to hear war’s red song, singing it as though it was glorious feels quite wrong. However, I thank those men, women, children and animals the song has called their name, those that returned only to be haunted by it, and those right now live in fear of his song. I hope one day you and I may sing the white song of peace.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Remembering and never forgetting

Today marks 100 years since the start of one war that humanity will never forget. I shut my eyes to try to imagine what these people did in the name of freedom for their countries: I immediately become deafened by the gunfire, falling over the lifeless bodies of sacrifice to an almost undeserving god, a loss of innocence on all sides, and memories no one that survived the battles would ever forget as scarred in their minds forever. A century on, the red rain continues to pour in every corner of the world. There is no way to shelter from it for once it starts, as is like monsoon season. Tears fall in fear, empathy, and sadness from all over the world as we do not know how to help. Sadly, many do not want to know now as too depressing, preferring their scripted soap operas or reality TV, which are exaggerations of every day life and an escapism from the real world.

Twenty years ago I wondered after the first Gulf War and the breakdown of Yugoslavia if there would ever be peace in my lifetime. Instinctively I knew there would not be as saw people bully me for the silliest of things day in and out, multiplying that up at a country level I sensed only more pain to come. Today I am not a dreamer, I am a realist, accepting what I could sense then. I cannot dream of a peaceful world when I see people everyday not accepting difference in another from gender, race, religion, sexuality and ability. Is it human nature to do so or do we let an arbitrary box dictate how to treat another person? As children we accept someone for who they are, maybe this is another thing we need to learn from them to keep us grounded in what matters.

© Fi S. J. Brown