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Buying a Poppy with gratitude but also with a tinge of resentment

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 5 November 2012

I always buy a poppy. But I do so with slightly mixed feelings. Before you accuse me of not honouring the dead that is not my problem. It is that almost universal accusation that gives me the problem.

I have nothing but admiration for those men and women who are far braver than I will ever be and gave their lives for this country. And that is why each year I wear a poppy. I do respect them. I do not agree with some of the wars they were sent to fight. The invasion of Iraq was illegal as there were no WMD and our foray into Afghanistan can only end with the same result as our last two forays there in the nineteen century. It was a mistake too. But that does not reduce by one iota my admiration for those soldiers who fought and died in either war. And so I wear my poppy with pride.

I wear with especial pride tonight as I head off to a middle class bonfire party where I suspect most folks are deluded lefties and will not wear poppies and I shall enjoy annoying them.

So what is my reservation about poppies? It is simply that most of those who died for Britain died fighting that this should be a free country where one is not forced to do anything by law or by weight of opinion. And there is now real pressure to wear a poppy. If you do not have a poppy added to your twitter image you are almost an oddity. Any politician who appears on TV not wearing a poppy is accused of insensitivity. They are handed out in TV studios to guests appearing so that no-one is seen to be causing offence. Wandering down the street without a poppy you will get the odd dirty look. Not many but the odd one.

When I am told that I must do something or am “strongly encouraged” to do something because that is what everyone does, my instinctive reaction is to question why? And that is how I feel increasingly as each year passes about poppies. I resent the peer pressure to buy. Having considered it, I am giving my money to a good cause and those who died merit my respect and so I shall continue to wear a poppy each November. But I rather wish I had a completely free choice in the matter.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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