Poppy facist time is upon us. I've seen a poppy double decker, poppy brollies, poppy coffee pots, poppy fighter bombers.
The men & women who returned in 1918 after one million of their comrades had been killed & another two million wounded – they were not poppycocks. 24 thousand of them wore pawn tickets in their lapels one year to demonstrate their poverty. Another year the Great War veterans organised a protest during the two minutes silence.
The veterans were against war, and would never have dreamt of lionising the military or calling everyone in a uniform a 'hero'.
Before 1918 there was nothing like this, although British soldiers were fighting and dying in far flung places like South Africa, India, even Afghanistan & a war against Russia…
In the 1970s the ceremony was nearly scrapped. By the 1990s the public were showing less interest as it had little relevance to their lives.
Then came Blair, Bush and neo-imperial wars. The new wars are fought with less troops and with less casualties than Victorian wars. Far less. The killing of civilians has risen disturbingly high. But they're not British civilians.
The British Legion and Help for Heroes pay their senior staff enormous salaries. They are highly selective in their token assistance to a handful of veterans.
As we are invited to 'remember' on 11/11… what is it in our memories that we are remembering? None of us were on the Somme or at Ypres…
It's time to question this militarisation and bellicose justification of the old empire every early November at the cenotaph. Protest and the cry 'Never Again' must replace the solemn act of remembering we maintain the most aggressive overseas expeditionary forces in history.
Silence for ALL war dead too – the civilians of Dresden, Hiroshima, Tripoli and Baghdad. We will remember them.
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