FATHER Tim Jones’s telling phrase “the remembrance season” indicates precisely a shift in emphasis from what began as a day of remembrance (The Yorkshire Post, November 11).
Armistice Day commemorated a cessation of the bloodshed, a deliverance of the living, as well as being a solemn commemoration the dead. The two minutes’ silence therefore had a double significance.
The adoption of the poppy motif was a spontaneous public recognition of this. The persecution of Charlene White indicates that for many people the poppy has become, with its emphasis on pride, a symbol of patriotic conformity and patriotic coercion. The question is not whether or not Charlotte White is right or wrong, but whether or not our society will uphold her right to be wrong.
I doubt if those who open the “remembrance season” with a determination to be first to sport a poppy care much for the original meaning of the ceremony. Still less do I believe they will heed Tim Jones’s exhortation to consider pacifism to be, in certain circumstances, acceptable.
Siegfried Sassoon, who knew a thing or two about the matter, thought our political leaders would always vote for war. I think he may have had a point.