Saturday, November 11, 2006

White Poppies and Red 

I notice a fair amount of angst about White Poppies in LibDem blogs. Seems as if some people thing these are in some way ‘defamatory’ about people who fought in wars.

As someone whose UK Grandfather fought in both world wars, whose Lithuanian Grandfather fought in the Tsars Army in the Great War and in Lithuania’s Army in the War of Independence, and who’s father won the Military Cross at Arnhem, I just don’t see it that way.

Just a quick note here though to show some of the additional dimensions the White Poppy helps commemorate.

In the early stages of the Great War (aka WW1) Conscientious Objectors were fairly brutally treated. When conscription was introduced group of them were transported to France into the front line area and informed that they were now in a combat zone and if they still refused to serve they would be shot as deserters.

The colonel in charge was ordered to confront each of the Objectors in turn with this ultimatum.

The first objector told him. So be it; do your duty and I will do mine. There are tens of thousands of young men out there in the lines dying because they believe they are doing the right thing. I can do no less than them.

A frozen silence. The Colonel took a step backwards and saluted the Objector, then left the room. He then informed his superiors he would refuse to carry out the orders for the executions, explaining why. His superiors backed him up and the executions did not take place.

The White Poppy, alongside the Red Poppy, for me does honour not only to those who had the courage to refuse to fight when they believed it wrong, but also to the decency and integrity of soldiers.

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