An empty funeral is a sad sight, but empty chairs during visiting time at a care home are an even sadder one. I'm sure the 300 plus mourners who attended felt good about turning out, but they shouldn't mistake their actions for noble or respectful.
It is easy to look on your younger years through a softer lens. We talk of 'those halcyon days'; we tell children 'school days are the best days of your lives'. It is not a natural human trait to live only for today, or to ignore the lure of greener grass.
On the internet and down the pub, men are regularly chastised about their lack of hardness, and advised to 'Man Up' - strap on a pair, grow some balls, stop being such a wuss, toughen up. All typical calls to the superficial macho male.
My Grandfather tragically lost his friend on the battlefield and suffered from depression for the rest of his life, which rendered him unable to speak for the days surrounding 11 November. My Great Uncle was severely, severely shell shocked and as an additional complication, the PTSD triggered psychotic episodes during which there was an attempt to break into Buckingham Palace.
Britons lionise their Second World War veterans more than other veterans because they fought for what Britain and what the world is today, including its neighbour, Ireland. We, the Irish, live in a better world because of them, and it's about time that we acknowledged this as so.
The famous two minute silence of Remembrance Sunday is a moving tribute to those who lost their lives defending this country in military conflict... But is the distinctive psychological power of the two-minute silence now endangered in the modern era?
It is that time of year again where every poppy pinned to a lapel is joined by a newspaper column, blog or tweet on why no one should be wearing a poppy. To wear or not to wear a poppy is a debate raging everywhere, and unfortunately this controversy is dominating the discourse on commemoration and precluding the wider national debate we should be having on the subject.
The worthy practice of donating first-hand, with its inherent 'nothing in return' aspect, has been replaced with the more morally ambiguous purchasing of an mp3. When you put pennies in the Chelsea Pensioner's box and collect your poppy, you are forced, however momentarily, to individually reflect on the meaning of the paper token you've acquired.
For those of us who have known the heavy weight of war - whether we have witnessed its toll on a beloved veteran, lost a soul held dear, or outlived the fight ourselves - the message of the poppy is not felt only on Remembrance Day.
It's that time of year again. When we remember. Remember the fallen, remember the dead. Remember those who have given their lives in wars throughout the last 100 years or so, in service of us, those left behind to have a free, decent and peaceful life.
Did you know that just before World War II was declared, a government pamphlet led to a massive cull of British pets? In fact it's estimated that as many as three quarters of a million adored pets were destroyed in the first week of war alone.
Wearing a poppy is not a comment on politics or military intervention. I doubt that everyone who wears a poppy agrees with all aspects of British foreign and military policy dating back to the first ever Poppy Day in 1921. If you object to British foreign policy, about the worst way you could express that is in a decision not to wear a poppy, because that decision only impacts on some of those who face consequences of the policy - whether or not they agree with it - not on those of us who are actually responsible for the decisions.
To this day, I believe the Royal British Legion's legacy of providing necessary care to veterans and their families makes them one of the finest and most worthwhile charities.
I should probably point out that I'm not against the original meaning behind Poppy Day: remembering how Britain twice sent a whole generation of its young men off to be slaughtered, and that future generations should be able to live without the fear of enduring such violence. Yet that meaning often seems to get forgotten as Remembrance Sunday becomes a celebration of jingoism and militarism, where the victims of British aggression in wars past and present are rarely mentioned.
Like it or not, poppies no longer represent what they initially were created for. Every year we have remembrance services where those in power in the state talk about our military and giving thanks to their courage, whilst handily forgetting that when current soldiers often come back from tours of Afghanistan, it's up to charities to mend what's been broken.
This week the University of London Union released a statement telling its 120,000 student members that there would be no official presence at the ceremonies of remembrance from ULU. Individual members of the union's staff and sabbatical officers will be free to attend in a personal capacity, but not as representatives of the union itself.