No other annual act of military and historical remembrance and contemplation anywhere in the world, with all its metaphysical and spiritual connotations, as well as its moral and political considerations and undertones, is anywhere near as stunning, dignified or soberly and tenderly dramatic and reflective as Britain’s Remembrance Day.
Otherwise known as Poppy Day and/or Armistice Day, it is presented on the public stage in stylish and loving memory and honour of all those men of action who were killed in the Great War (World War One), as well as all subsequent wars; as they all sacrificed their lives for their country, devastating the lives of their families thereby.
It is important for present day and future generations to understand the debt that they certainly owe to those who died in past times for them and their freedom today, in the best traditions of their race, or if not so important, then it won’t do them any harm to think about this!
When the bright lights went out all over Europe during WW1 - and WW2 thereafter - a red sea of blood rose like a ghastly glowing sunset of suppressed lighting in their place, to light up the battlefields, the overhanging skies and the graveyards, arguably (and powerfully so) in defence of Western Civilisation (and absolutely on a needs-must basis in the case of WW2), leaving nations to ponder the terrible consequences and to eternally dignify their dead if they chose to do so; rather than consigning the memory of their dead to the dustbins and slag heaps of history, as the wars themselves were inevitably and of course consigned to these places, as their lessons were learned (from all the dead men’s bones and the decaying and worm-eaten skeletons’ skulls!).
So, how else to supplant one black and painful image with a more healing and caring other image, in order to remember and dignify the memory of the dead - if not with poppies (888,246 of these flowers, one for each man of war killed)? – how else not to romanticise, trivialise or excuse this horror, but to heal its wounds instead?
This is what Poppy Day is all about, in its sentiment and its sermonising and its mourning.
It is a deeply thoughtful, morally compelling and captivating act of remembrance.
The brilliant and imaginative success of which has an intelligent and urgent message for the world, to which a large part of the European, North American and British Commonwealth world listens and takes note – a dozen Commonwealth countries and a dozen European and others, including the United States.
By Bob Crow.