BY JACK KENNAUGH
Those who wear white poppies are cowards. They have every right to choose to wear that symbol. But they are cowards none the less. They have chosen to ignore the warnings of history and tint the past through their own warped glass.
Imagine being at the Somme, Ypres, or Passchendaele. People make flippant remarks about Hell on Earth. But it existed 100 years ago on the fields of Northern France and Belgium. When I use the word ‘cowards’, I mean it in the strongest possible sense. Boys lied about their age to fight for King, Country, and freedom, only to be sent to their slaughter. The people who wear white poppies will never know, or understand, such sacrifice. They’ll never understand what 20,000 lives being snuffed out on the same day means. They will never understand what it means to fight for something truly greater than themselves. For they are too consumed by their own selfish interests.
That’s why I wear a poppy.
If you want to begin to imagine what it was like to be there; venture into your local bookshop and flip through the pages of one of the countless books on the Great War. Picture yourself stood in a scorched field, under a blackened sky, and within the confines of a trench. You are knee deep in a repulsive concoction of mud and blood. Your friends – people you may have known since school – lie dead, scattered among the devastation Man has brought to the Earth. All the while the fear that a man you have never met (or would never know) will kill you with his bare hands for the uniform you are truly proud to wear.
The white poppy, the forsaking of our past, is one of the things that makes me mourn for the society we have become. My generation will never understand war. When the third and final war does come, we’ll know nothing of it. But back then groups of lifelong friends were wiped out, and entire villages of men destroyed. That’s war we’ll never know.
And I pray we are never to know it. The least we can do is say thank you. This Sunday, on the 11th hour, the guns will have been silent for 100 years. But their echoes still ring across the globe. In the same way we hear a reply when we shout a simple “hello” into the mountains; if we dare to call into history, we must be prepared to learn from its reply.
You can follow Jack on Twitter at @Jackalanch Jack is a 20 year old Tory from Liverpool.