Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Poppy generation

I must bow my head now. I confess that I missed Remembrance Sunday.

Normally, I don't miss it. I've been known to sink my double chin to my chest to honour the dead of the two World Wars, and the dead of every other war and the survivors of all misbegotten deeds. But this year has been different.

This year, I feel their pain deep in my aching bones, and I have their screams echoing endlessly in my ears. They are with me, those violated creatures mired in mud and filth and the scarlet of their blood and that of other humans, knowing that the end of their lives - and such short lives - was a millisecond away.

You rest now, beneath the poppies. You sleep and wake to heaven now. You have passed the baton to this generation - these ones now quick and breathing.

And how we have failed you, our dear dead; how we have failed to see that discourse fills the airwaves now and not truth that you put your shaking hands to the guns to protect. We bow our heads at the thought of the comfortable dreadfulness of those days wherein you gave your future and your dreams. It is a cosy feeling that we have, snuggling up in our coats and jackets, watching the march of the handfuls left of the few who made it back alive but not unblooded and not unchanged.

We remember on November 11th (or the nearest Sunday) only to forget on the day after.

How much you must long to shriek at us. How much you must wish to awaken us. How much you try to warn us.

"This too can happen to you..." they whisper from their scattered graves. "Beware. You too can lose your freedom. The poppy can be your symbol as well as ours. Beware".

A million bombs fell upon our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and they clambered over the bodies of the beloved, the children, the families, the friends and the unknown to reach the haven of freedom.

But there are other ways to destroy a man or a woman: it can be done without dropping a bomb or pointing a gun. The new times have more subtle deaths for us.

"Beware. You too can lose your freedom at the behest of vile men. Beware. The poppy can be your symbol as well as ours. Beware. Oh, please, beware".


  1. I got quite choked up when reading that. Well done, it doesn't happen often. That is kudos by the way.

  2. I have been thinking a lot of these same thoughts this past week. In Canada, we remember on Nov. 11. It was a Canadian doctor who wrote "Where Poppies Blow." We are all tied in many ways.