Remembrance Day poppies should remain a symbol of remembrance

Poppies shouldn’t be about Britishness, patriotism or jingoism – they’re about remembrance, pure and simple.

Poppies have been used as symbols of remembrance for the past 90 years.

It might surprise some Brits to know that this is the case not just here in the UK, but around the world.

The poppy began to symbolise remembrance after Canadian First World War poet John McCrae wrote his famous poem In Flanders Fields.

Although widely considered a propaganda poem, the verses contain imagery that show the tragedy – the futility – of war. “We are the Dead. Short days ago; We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow; Loved and were loved, and now we lie; In Flanders fields.”

The poppy, to me, is something you wear to remember men and women who sacrificed their lives to fight for freedom and democracy.

It should never become a political tool, or like Robert Fisk described, a fashion statement. The poppies should also never have become the source of a silly argument between the English Football Association and Fifa.

My grandpa, Dick Roberts, volunteered as a soldier in the Second World War. Although he didn’t like talking about his time in the Army, we know that he was a fine soldier, serving in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany. He wore his poppy with pride.

It saddens me that some people equate the poppy with Britishness, or even with a “support our troops” mentality.

It’s a symbol, known across the Commonwealth and beyond, asking us all to remember the wars we have fought, and the people who have died in their thousands.¬† In remembering them, we will not fall prey to repeating the past mistakes that led to conflict.

It should never be compulsary to wear a poppy, nor should people feel bullied into it. But if you wear it, wear it like I do, knowing that that it doesn’t have to be about politics, patriotism or jingoism.