A FEW days ago, I stood on the clifftop at Whitby and looked at the Bombardment Memorial. This reconstruction of a bombed-out house serves as a reminder to the German attack on Whitby in 1914. A young boy near me asked his mother what it was for. The woman didn’t know and said it was just something to do with the war.
I find it amazing that a hundred years after such a tragic period of our history, we should be so quick to forget the sacrifice made by so many soldiers and civilians. Never before has there been a need to remember exactly the horrors of violence and how we should work so hard to avoid them happening again.
In our rabidly PC culture, there are a growing number of people who would love to do away with any form of recollection of the two World Wars. They believe in the philosophy of least said soonest mended. They believe any mention of the war is bound to upset the Germans or the Japanese and really, after all this time, isn’t it better for us to forget all about it?
Remembrance is increasingly being seen as a glorification of violence, tinged with the toxic aroma of ardent nationalism. Some people even believe that wearing a red poppy is racist.
This snowflake generation look at those who made the ultimate sacrifice as savages who died for nothing. They are strung out on their guilt trip about their ancestry, wishing they could rewrite history into some kind of utopian multi-culturalism. They see pageantry as being part of colonialism and the Cenotaph as a legitimate target for vandalism.
Within our communities, there are a growing number of people who are prepared to burn poppy wreaths and urinate on the memory of all those who died to give them the freedom of speech and political expression. The red poppy is being seen as a symbol of hate, a wretched Flanders flower and something to be replaced.
Even our schools are becoming places where this subversive battle is being fought. White poppies are being forced on children, supported by teaching unions. This is a ploy to replace the traditional poppy with one that is sold on the premise that it represents peace and all those who have died in conflict. It is a poppy promoted by the Peace Pledge Union, an organisation that insists that wearing a red poppy honours only British soldiers.
I have to say that I find this quite insulting. Throughout my life, I have always thought that the traditional poppy was to remember all those who had died as a result of war. As a priest, I always made sure that civilians as well as service personnel were remembered. Only someone with a limited imagination would limit the symbolism of the red poppy only to soldiers.
I wear my poppy for all those who have died as a result of war and terrorism. I wear my poppy for the soldiers who fight for my freedom and the passer-by mown down by a coward in a truck high on some barbaric theology of being paid in virgins for murdering innocent children. I wear my poppy for every civilian in every war killed, by bullet and bombs on both sides of the conflict.
My poppy reminds me of the futility of war and the need to remember the mistakes of the past so they don’t become the Armageddon of the future.
The whole point of the red poppy for me was that it was the first flower to grow on the battlefields of the Somme and Ypres. It was a symbol of new life and hope coming out of chaos and destruction. It was red and not white and should be worn with pride for those who have given so much for us. More than this, we need to use the poppy as a symbol of strength.
We British have endured much. Yet, powers within forbid us from celebrating our culture for fear of upsetting others who have chosen to live amongst us. Now, the symbol of our readiness to stand up for others is under threat.
Remembrance Day and the red poppy are virtually all we have left of our culture. Jesus has been taken out of Christmas and Easter has become solely a chocolate feast. Bring on a marching band and the Union Flag in Whitehall and the loony liberals play the race card.
For me, remembrance is a day of making a statement. A statement that there are people in this world who will stand up to tyranny and oppression and who will not go the way of the appeasers.
It is about saying to the world that we in Britain have fought totalitarianism before and we will do it again. We are not a nation to go quietly into the night and back down when liberty is at stake.
GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster and can be followed @GPTaylorauthor.