"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."- The Ode of Remembrance by Laurence Binyon
Remembrance Day this Wednesday marks 96 years since the end of World War One, a global conflict which took over 17million lives. At the time, the war was proclaimed to be 'the war to end all wars'. Unfortunately for the millions of military personnel and civilians that have died in conflicts since then, this label has proved to be naïve.
Whilst Remembrance Day is an important opportunity to commemorate the victims of war, it would also be foolish to ignore the uncomfortable truth that much of the world is still consumed by conflict. To overlook the wars and conflicts that have become a permanent feature of human life would be the greatest betrayal of all.
In Britain, we are fortunate enough to have avoided mainland conflict for hundreds of years. That does not mean that war no longer exists. Whilst remembering past wars and conflicts, we should also scrutinise Britain's modern role in global conflicts. It is an insult to our fallen soldiers that those who sport the red poppy are also complicit in Britain's involvement in global conflicts.
I choose to wear both a red poppy and a white one.
I wear a red poppy to remember those who have died in past conflicts, and as a donation to the Royal British Legion, supporting current soldiers and veterans.
I wear a white poppy to remember the civilian casualties of war. For those who died in Nagasaki and Hiroshima; London during the Blitz; and for the victims of the My Lai Massacre; and for all other civilian tragedies. I wear it in recognition that there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing fellow human beings. Most of all I wear it as a pledge:
'War is a crime against humanity. I renounce war, and am therefore determined not to support any kind of war. I am also determined to work for the removal of all causes of war.' - Peace Pledge Union
There is no contradiction in wearing both a red and a white poppy. This Remembrance Day we should remember those who have given their lives for our freedom, and also take a moment to question the causes and consequences of war.