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.
While there is still a long way to go, Afghan women have actually achieved so much in recent years. Millions of girls are now in school and you will find women working in a whole range of different professions. The fact that I am writing this now, having just completed a Masters in the UK, says a lot on its own.
Many in the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces found his level of ambition to be intimidating. For others, his leadership style was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale department. Nevertheless it was this ambition, and his leadership abilities, that brought him to the very top of his profession.
Soldiers may fight wars, but it is politicians who not only start them, the politicians getting around a table and talking also finish them. In a dirty and nasty war which has cost over 35,000 people's lives, the only real way to come out with a solution to the annual cycle of fighting is to discuss it.
We need an open discussion on foreign policy where no one should be silenced for disagreeing or agreeing with mainstream political views. Will Afghans be better off when the troops withdraw? Was going into Iraq a mistake? Who is being held accountable for the killing of civilians? The majority of Muslims want answers to these questions.