Poppies are the quintessence of commemoration towards the end of World War One; a period of four years which took the lives of many heroic British servicemen and women. The Royal British Legion formed 93 years ago are the magic behind the remarkable care for those who suffered as a result of service during the Great War and continue to support our men and women today. Remembrance through the poppy is the symbolic act.
This time of year always brings volunteers from all walks of life to contribute their support towards the Poppy appeal. With their voluntary efforts and for a number of weeks, poppy collectors stand in support of those who have given their lives for our country. Every year on Remembrance Sunday which is 9 November this years, we bow our heads in reflection. Though we mourn and honour those who lost their lives, the wearing of a poppy has come to mark hope and British heritage. War is an endless cycle of hostility and violence and yet last week, the final troops stationed in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan have made their way home.
Wearing a poppy is important to me; yet not wearing one does not mean you don’t honour those who fought any less. For me, the encouragement to wear a poppy has come from my dad. For over six years, he (and in a limited way, my brother) has worked effortlessly and with an immense amount of passion to help raise as much money as possible for The Royal British Legion selling poppies to everyone and anyone who wishes to stop for a minute and commemorate.
Both my parents have served in the British Army and Israeli Defence Force; so I have been taught the importance of remembrance, to remember the ultimate sacrifice thousands of men and women made. The giving of their lives to ensure future generations could live in freedom and democracy that the United Kingdom is famed for. During November, my dad stands for hours outside stations, inside pubs and
restaurants to raise money. Across the six years, he has managed to raise over £6000.
Hearing stories from my grandmother and grandfather about the Second World War is an eye opener and though it is in the distant past and very much unattainable to comprehend, Remembrance Sunday allows each individual two minutes silence to be solemn in their thoughts regardless of age.
I am hoping to visit the major art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London which marks 100 years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War but symbolically, the Sea of poppies remembers all those who have died. This truly beautiful masterpiece has been created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and Tom Piper making and installing 888,246 ceramic poppies which have filled the Tower’s famous moat. 18,000 volunteers have also played their part in planting these icons of remembrance.
The moat has a spectacular red blanket of poppies which has been progressively filled since the summer, with the final poppy to be planted on November 11. Each flower represents a British military fatality from the war. The iconic landmark has been transformed into a display of remembrance, invoking the famous scene created by the poem In Flanders Fields. The Tower of London Remembrance project is supporting six service charities in the United Kingdom and has attracted many visitors to understand the significance of the Tower during the war which saw 11 spies executed.
There is still time to remember those who perished during the Great War and all other wars and it is a reminder that if each and every individual bought a poppy to wear, The Royal British Legion can continue its charitable work to support all those who still serve our country, whether at home, sea and abroad.