Remembrance Sunday was a time to reflect for veterans on lost comrades in arms, for family and friends to recall loved ones to mind and for all to honour the service past and present of armed forces throughout the Commonwealth. Gradually humanists are being allowed to take part in services, though this is still far from the norm.
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.
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.
There are not many things I dislike about living in London. Of course, the weather could be better sometimes; transport could definitely be improved upon; and an increase in the living wage would help most ordinary Londoners. But the one day of the year I have come to absolutely loathe and despise in over a decade of living in this great city is Remembrance Sunday.
The sight of politicians, the royal family and various other members of the nation's ruling class laying wreaths at the cenotaph to commemorate the deaths and slaughter of the untold thousands of working class men, used as cannon fodder to maintain the class privileges which they and theirs enjoy, is truly an act of sickening hypocrisy to behold.
Opium poppy extracts and their chemical derivatives were and still are invaluable in relieving the suffering of the wounded. It is therefore safe to say that both the opium poppy and the red poppy, or least the artificial variety, have been employed to bring immense relief to members of the armed forces, albeit in totally different ways.