Poppy-Burning. And why it’s ok.
I’ll never know how my great-uncle died. I’ll never know what day he died, or what hell he was going through at the time. I’ll never know if he suffered or whether he was scared. I do hope I know why he died though, and I do hope I never forget.
My great-uncle David “Alfie” Bould was only 22 when he was killed while serving in the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry in Normandy during the most bloody phase of World War II. It was the summertime, and my great-grandmother was almost about to give birth to their daughter when she heard the news on August 11th 1944. The shock led to her going into labour soon after, and my great-auntie was born into a house still reeling from the news that her brother would never return.
It was Rememberance Day recently, the day we have designated to remember the fallen. Millions of soldiers died in the Second World War, and it is on this day every year we choose to remember their sacrifice, their ultimate sacrifice. We wear Poppies to remember them. The poppy image that we pin so proudly to our chest every November (or October if you work for the BBC or are in Parliament) comes from the battlefields of Flanders, where the blood, red poppy was the only thing that grew amongst the ravages of war.
But the poppy is more that just a tribute. More that just a silent, dignified nod of respect and approval of those who have fallen. It has become the closest thing Britain has to a national religion. I am convinced of this by the recent furore over two issues. 1) The national team being “forbidden” by FIFA to wear them on their jersey’s in the recent friendly vs Spain and 2) The general outrage from the public over the rabble-rousing antics of attention seeking anti-government groups such as Islam4UK led by general publicity-hog Anjem Choudary. In a nutshell, FIFA disrespected the poppy and a muslim threatened to burn some.
Choudary is the type of muslim that moderate muslims despair at. Last year (2010) he whipped up a media storm (with the help of a frenzied Sky News team) when he announced he was going to led a protest march through Mecca*ahem sorry”, through Wotton Basset. Of course, he never did this, he was never going to, but merely suggesting it gained him the publicity he craved and the whole stunt worked to perfection.
Messages whizzed around facebook and twitter like a coked-up Hermes delivering warnings of 1) Muslim’s running riot, 2) “our country” being invaded, 3) Sharia law was all, but set to be imposed and 4) the United Arab Emirates of Basingstone was merely months away from being formed…
But of course, they are not, it is not, it isn’t and it probably isn’t….but the issue still enrages people like nothing else. I could walk into Boots, drop my trousers and start pissing on a Pudsey Bear and no one would bat an eyelid (might be an exaggeration..), but if I merely threatened to burn a poppy people would denounce me as a witch and almost definitely stop reading this blog.
One thing Mr Choudary would be wise to remember on Rememberance Day is that people like my Great-uncle died for many reasons. One of those reasons was to ensure the protection of our rights, our liberties, our freedoms. Freedoms against fascism, against totalitarism and against the horrifying threat of the Nazi’s. Freedom to be different, to be individual, to say what we want, to do what we want. If Mr Choudary wants to burn a poppy, then that is fine by me. Every time he does, he pays tribute to men like my Great-uncle, men far greater than many of us could ever hope to be.
I am the only one that got through.
The others died where ever they fell.
It was an ambush.
They came up from all sides.
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves.
I’ve seen devils coming up from the ground.
I’ve seen hell upon this earth.
The next will be chemical, but they will never learn.