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History

Poppies and Fighting

Poppy, First World WarOn 11/11 I always think of my grandad, who fought in the First World War. He volunteered in 1914 and was invalided out a few months before the Battle of the Somme two years later. But then I think of the two minutes silence and our contemplation of  “the fallen”.

Except they didn’t ‘fall’, they were mown down in freezing mud by machine guns after being conscripted to fight some kind of hellish jingoistic empire/turf war. Not quite as snappy, is it? So everyone wears a poppy for a couple of weeks – more now than, say, 30 years ago when I was a teenager – but rarely these days is the question asked “what was it for?”

At some point in the not so distant future will the poppy stop being a symbol of the hopeless sacrifice of the common man caught up in the military-industrial machine of the early 20th Century and instead become a sign of our respect/acceptance for the waging of a 1984-style perpetual war on terror?

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