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Irish difficulties with the Poppy


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#1 Gerard

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 12:28 PM

The Poppy is a wonderful way of commemorating those who have fallen in both World Wars. One of the tragedies of this Country (Republic of Ireland) is that the Poppy is seen as a symbol of England and also of Unionism which means that it is not seen as a positive symbol in the way it is seen in the United Kingdom. Here is an article from an Irish Journalist in 2004 which gives an opinion about it.

Please note the following:

1. This is not a knock on the wearing of the Poppy. Personally I think its a really emotive symbol and the purchasing of one ensures it goes to a good cause. This thread does not need flaming posts defending the wearing of it. you'll be singing to the choir

2. This is also not a political discussion. I am merely commenting on the issue that some people in the Republic of Ireland have with it as a symbol.

Here is the article link: Why I won't wear your poppy -Times Online

feel free to take issue with it but I would ask people to try and be polite if its possible. Its more about the fact that its an emotive issue than a judgement on either side. And I dont want it to go down that route if possible.
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#2 Paul Reed

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 12:48 PM

Eamonn Holmes will be talking about this in MFAW, see:

BBC - Press Office - Network TV Programme Information Week 45 Unplaced 2008
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#3 James S

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 01:36 PM

Things have moved on somewhat but Mary may not is my view.
For many years Ireland ignored the men from the South who had died or had served in France in 1914-1918 and gave little thought to those who had volunteered to fight in 1939-45.
As a nation this had largely changed and it is more of a problem in "The North" - seeing the poppy as a political symbol is a thing of the past.

A lady I know local historian and broadcaster told me at a remembrance service in Irvinestown that she had felt slightly neverous / out of place attending as it had been something she had never done before.
having worked closely , comoing to know and respect this lady she had a perfect right to be there and was made very welcome.
Something we both discovered in the course of research and talking to local people was that the war years for those who had lived through them carried no political message in terms of Ireland / Britain
The baggage we carry is often given to us , we inherit it and accept it without questioning - we should do.

Viewing the poppy as being "British" a bit like saying St.Patrick was "Irish" in the "Nationalist sense" it is superficial view which ignores so much.

We have to be able to accept our own history for what it is "warts and all" , "our" being in the total sense not just what I view as being "mine".
For some this may take a while longer and I do not see the "some" as being confined to any particular section of society , a particular political view point or sense of identity.

I have never viewed the poppy as being "British" but I am prepared to try and understand the views of those who do , this will take time and it will start with an acceptance of who we are in the collective and all inclusive sense.
Symbols are what we read into them and what we underdstand about them - not always what they actually are .
The munitions which injured and killed took no account of the individual , their religious or political backgrounds , and to be fair the RBL are not a political organisation , to me this is like making say the GAA a political organisation , something which it is not.

Understanding takes time and a willingness from all concened to attempt that understanding.
In recent years BBC have shown a number of programmes which have brought people of different points of view together against the background of their family histories in respect of the last two world wars - for all it was a learning experience - being there and seeing certainly produced an immediate bond a divided history went out the window.

My father spent D-day on a gunboat , his crew had several men from Ireland in its number he came from "Londonderry" / "Derry" - the others came from different parts of "the South" , he reflected this to me whilst watching a rather distasteful piece of our recent local history unfolding on the 6.00pm news.

Edited by James S, 30 October 2008 - 01:44 PM.

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#4 Auditman

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 01:48 PM

I have recently returned from a holiday at Ypres including the battles for Messines, where the Irish Peace monument stands. I have seen the memorials to the 36th Ulster and 16th Irish Divisions on either side ofthe "Whitesheet" Road. These were two sides of the political coin in respect of Ireland that fought side by side for what they thought right. The right not to wear a poppy is part of the free-speech bought with their lives. I will wear mine and remember, I am sure those that will not wear it will remember the same men. The important thing is that we remember
Jim
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#5 James S

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 02:03 PM

If anyone is ever driving through Pettigo you get an illustration of history.
In the centre of the village is "The White Man" a statue remembering the Irish volunteers who fought locally against the British Army, a few hundred yards away a memorial naming those who fought in France 1914-1918.
When you read the names you can see that men came from all walks of life.
The men who came back came back to a country which had seen the 1916 rising , the executions relating to it , partition and civil war - few wanted to know or had tie for what they had been through in France.
Remembering is based on awareness.
Thinking outside of Ireland , how many youngsters in any number of cities can relate to the poppy , what it means and war actually means ?
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#6 von Poop

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 02:25 PM

The right not to wear a poppy is part of the free-speech bought with their lives. I will wear mine and remember, I am sure those that will not wear it will remember the same men. The important thing is that we remember
Jim

Beautifully put Jim.
As the lady states in the article, as long as there's respect & remembrance that's what matters.

Interesting subject though Gott, I wonder if Canada for example, has any such 'issues' with the symbol in Quebec?.. or any other countries that use the Poppy and also have some 'cross-cultural' divides.

Wondering if South Africans wear Poppies I tried to find a definitive list of what Countries use them, I can find lists of those that observe remembrance sunday but specific mention of the symbol's more difficult. Does anybody know?

Cheers,
Adam.
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#7 Drew5233

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 02:31 PM

To be fair you have to admire the guy for standing up for his principals although I disagree with them.

I wonder how many people wear them like girl in the article said for 'TV' just to confirm with society but not their own personal beliefs.

I noticed the other day that the band Girls Aloud was on the TV and they were all wearing poppies except for the Irish girl Nadine. I would assume this was no mistake.

Do other countries like Germany, America, France, Russia and the like wear a poppy or is it just a symbol of peace and rememberance adopted by the UK? After all non unionist's see themselves and N. Ireland as a annex to the Rep of Ireland.

I for one always buy one at this time of year and travel to attend the parade in Sheffield where my old Regt. parade. I also have one all year round in my car and in my last job as a Copper I wore a Poppy pin badge on my body armour.

I think people should in the main be encouraged to make their own decisions on whether they should wear a poppy or not rather than as a matter of fact. That way people will always remember the real reason why they are worn rather than because everyone else does.

I hope that makes sense :)

:poppy:
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#8 Capt.Sensible

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 03:38 PM

Slight diversion here to the matter of white poppies. I remember seeing a few of these around in the 1980s but haven't seen one for years - has anyone seen one this year? It is interesting to read an alternative interpretation of the whole Remembrance issue, and especially the controversy of the 1920s and 1930s. Have a look here:
WHITE POPPIES FOR PEACE
and here
Tales of two poppies

I don't have a problem with the core idea of the white poppy and don't see any contradiction in wearing both at the same time but to my mind the red poppy has moved with the times whilst the white poppy may not have.

CS:poppy:
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#9 von Poop

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 04:09 PM

To be honest I see the white Poppies as an entirely different thing, 'marketed' as direct opposition to the Poppy appeal I always find them rather insulting.
A far more overt rejection than choosing to not wear a red one, and everybody I ever encountered wearing one had more of a political agenda behind it than the stated aim of remembrance.
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#10 Capt.Sensible

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 04:20 PM

I know what you mean A; I think the White Poppy people don't really appreciate how the the Red Poppy has changed over the years and now represents a much broader church, so to speak. I have never had the opportunity to speak to a WP wearer - I have a vague memory of going out with a mate in about 1986 who was an FAC in 42 Commando and growled at some WP wearers in the pub. They left...
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#11 dbf

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 05:37 PM

I am pleased to see my English husband wear his poppy with pride, and on those occasions when I have accompanied him to a Church of England Remembrance Day service, I have pinned a poppy to my lapel at the church door, as a gesture of solidarity with the congregation, for that specific duration. But church service over, some ancestral voice prompts me to remove it. The poppy symbolises their tribe, not mine, however “objectively” I may admire what it signals.


Whilst I can easily comprehend what the author is putting across throughout the article, and she has taken great pains to put everything in context, I can’t help but be saddened by her attitude. Saddened that it has still come to this. However, she lost my total understanding, when I read the above 3 sentences. Poppycock!

There is a certain amount of hypocrisy here, not ambiguity, for why wear it at all if principles run so innately deep? I agree with James here that there is a reluctance to ‘move on’. May our children not suffer the same fate! May they all wear the shamrock on St Patrick’s Day and poppies on Remembrance Sunday.

The British Legion is as offensive in intent as the British Red Cross. People are entitled to view the poppy as British if they wish. But then sadly for some the word British is still offensive.

Of course the poppy is a symbol, one given to those who have contributed to a fund which helps veterans and their families. And who should also benefit from this, but Irish volunteers who fought in the British Army? I wonder GH if this reluctance could also be partly due to it being considered historically a British debt - to be paid by British people.

We in Ireland have a heightened awareness of ‘identity and otherness’ that perhaps only people from areas of ethnic conflict might understand. Each of us clings to symbols for fear of them being obliterated. We have divvied them up instead of finding commonality. Let us all in Ireland, remember the men from the north and south who enlisted without peer pressure and often despite it.

As to the wearing of the poppy itself, this simple act of remembrance has unfortunately been attached to something else here, and frankly in my opinion that has more to do with the eye of the beholder than the poppy wearer. Just as those who promoted the white poppy attached yet another agenda to the proper red one. To me the white poppy is an irrelevance, a diversion of much-needed income; at worst an insult. Wearing a red poppy is the same in principle as wanting peace. We should remember, so as not to repeat.

:poppy:
Wear it with pride [and don't take it off straight after the service]
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#12 Rich Payne

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 06:09 PM

There is to my mind a distinction between the poppies of McCrae's poem and those sold by the RBL. I can recall a time when some ex-servicemen saw the latter rightly or wrongly as an attempt by Bloody Haig to salve his conscience.

I can understand that it may seem inappropriate to some in Ireland to make donations to a British servicemen's charity at a time when the veterans of 14-18 have nearly all gone and the RBL's work is much more related to more modern conflicts.

Wearing a poppy in mainland Britain is hardly a political gesture. Very few other countries, including France and Belgium which have armistice day as a holiday are as sentimental as the British over the losses of the First and Second World wars. My Belgian wife certainly cannot understand why I become all misty-eyed in a ninety-year old graveyard surrounded by memorials to people that I have no connection with.

Perhaps it is a cultural thing and the strong associations for the British are just what make it so difficult for some others ? Many nations certainly have difficulty avoiding triumphalism when remembering their dead and it could be that those who sing rebel songs have the most difficulty with this.
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#13 saintconor

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 07:44 PM

I have never worn a Poppy either even though I have 2 relatives who died during the World Wars. Like the lady mentions in the article in Northern Ireland it stands for other things which do not interest me.
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#14 dbf

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 08:52 PM

I have never worn a Poppy either even though I have 2 relatives who died during the World Wars. Like the lady mentions in the article in Northern Ireland it stands for other things which do not interest me.


Conor, you have a perfect right not to do so, as was mentioned earlier on in the thread. We each have our own ways of remembering.

I would point out again however, that it is perceived to stand for other things, which is completely different. NI is all about perceptions; until there is a mighty effort to bridge this gap, we all still stand on a precipice.

Regards,
D

Edited by dbf, 30 October 2008 - 11:08 PM.
typo - mighty

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#15 James S

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 09:24 PM

The poppy is as big a problem as people want it to be and in itself it is not a problem.
It is an individual thing , a charitiable act .
What it is absolutely is not - a method of expressing national identity ( Within the "NI" context )- it is a matter of choice and a choice which in itself should not be judged.
(Be that the choice to wear or not to wear).

As I said before we have too many things which have become mixed up or percieved to be political - the GAA for example or the RBL.
Collectively we need to free ourselves of the baggage we "traditionally" carried , in the meantime judging and reading anything into a person wearing or not wearing a poppy creates issues and reinforces differences.

Leave it up to the individual and respect their right to do what they feel is right for them , it is as simple as that.

Edited by James S, 30 October 2008 - 11:36 PM.

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#16 the_historian

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 01:13 AM

One of the tragedies of this Country (Republic of Ireland) is that the Poppy is seen as a symbol of England and also of Unionism which means that it is not seen as a positive symbol in the way it is seen in the United Kingdom.


I'll bet it's not as widespread as the author would have you believe though; there's been an active Orange Lodge in Dublin since 1949. It had to close down around 1930 in the face of mounting Republican attacks and government refusal to offer protection, but re-opened postwar and parades through the city every July.
I'll bet it's members are not the only Dubliners wearing poppies right now either, since in Masonic terms Ireland has always been seen as one country, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland has always been in Molesworth St.
Sounds like the journalist just has an axe to grind and a captive audience.
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#17 Gerard

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 09:52 AM

I'll bet it's not as widespread as the author would have you believe though; there's been an active Orange Lodge in Dublin since 1949. It had to close down around 1930 in the face of mounting Republican attacks and government refusal to offer protection, but re-opened postwar and parades through the city every July.
I'll bet it's members are not the only Dubliners wearing poppies right now either, since in Masonic terms Ireland has always been seen as one country, and the Grand Lodge of Ireland has always been in Molesworth St.
Sounds like the journalist just has an axe to grind and a captive audience.

No, I respectfully disagree Historian. Indeed there is an Orange Lodge in Dublin and there are many Orange parades throughout the Summer in the south especially in Border Counties and they are (rightly) seen by all as a great day out. But the general population would not see the wearing of a poppy on Rememberance Sunday as an "Irish" thing.

I personally have always thought it as a rememberance symbol to the futility of war but to the majority (not everyone) it wouldn't be seen in that light. To be honest what is more important is that the fallen are remembered in whatever way suits the individual.

Thanks everyone for the wonderful responses in this discussion. I was a bit fearful in case anyone took it the wrong way but as so often on this forum you are rising to the task and I'm very grateful.

:poppy:
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#18 troopietraveller

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 12:51 PM

Worn with Pride in Australia
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#19 the_historian

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 07:17 PM

No, I respectfully disagree Historian. :poppy:



No problem, I was just pointing it out. :)
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#20 Irishindidcot

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 12:32 AM

I am Irish, living in England, and I cannot suppot the "poppy appeal" and came to this website to try and educate myself a little bit better in relation to this issue.

I feel very stongly in favour of the Repulicans in "The troubles" and strongly resent the part the British Gov/Army played.

However I appreciate sacrifice made from those of WWI and WWII, including British forces.

I would like to wear a poppy for those reasons; as a pacifist.

I fell very strongly in favour of Republicans. Am I bitter now? Why do I work in England?
I don't "blame" any of my english colleagues for all that has happened and continues to happen. (Catholics need not apply)
Most of them don't know anything about it. I do resent what the British Gov did, and what their officers did. I appreciate at low levels people follow orders and probably don't know what they did, but that does not alleviate responsibility. We all know what is right and what is wrong.

I'm surprised that it has not been mentioned much, and was shocked to see so many Irish on English TV with poppies. I cannot contribute to an organisation that provides for the current generation of soldiers, I agree with "the work" in Iraq etc, but I cannot support the poppy appeal because of the indirect support (and justification?) I woudl be giving to some dark elements of it.

If the poppy were free I would wear it, but it is associated with raising fund for a group a cannot support.
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#21 von Poop

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 01:15 AM

It is Remembrance Sunday - this thread now closed.
It may return after the 11th of the 11th.
Anything about Poppies that may require potentially politicised discussion can be done after the deaths of Millions of Servicemen & Civilians have been calmly commemorated.

Cheers,
Adam.
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#22 drumaneen

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 11:30 PM

An Irish Poppy
http://http://rbl-limerick.webs.com/
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#23 Spirit of Dunkirk

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:05 AM

Morning,

The background to this question relates to last November when a professional footballer refused to wear the poppy emblem on his football shirt. The reasons for this stance were based on his upbringing in Northern Ireland and his dislike for the British Army.

Obviously this stance upset a number of people and having lived in Ireland for a few years and still having numerous friends over there I wanted to gage their opinion. That general opinion was that the player was right to express his own freewill and opinion and why should he wear an emblem that symbolizes something they are against?

My counter to this was that these people were allowing the North/South issue to cloud and taint a message that had nothing to do with the troubles in Ireland. My interpretation of the poppy and its origins are that it was born from world war one when poppies grew on the fields where many had fallen. On from this the poppy came to symbolize a mark of respect and remembrance for those who died giving their lives. So whilst the poppy does have a connection to any fallen soldier it's basis and strong connection is world war one and world war two. In which many Irish soldiers from the north and south died.

So whilst I believe in free speech in my view this footballer and anyone who backs his stance is very misguided.

I would therefore be interested to hear some experts opinion on here about this subject because I may be totally wrong?
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#24 JonathanBall39

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:06 AM

Having an opinion that may differ from others doesn't make it wrong. It's just that, a difference of opinion.
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#25 Spirit of Dunkirk

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:19 AM

I agree. However, I think the football player in question took a very distinct message and naively made it about something it isn't. On another level he also stoked up a lot of bad feeling in a country that is always on the verge of starting up again.
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#26 von Poop

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:18 AM

Merged (post#23 onwards) onto this thread.
~A

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#27 Spirit of Dunkirk

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 10:34 AM

Thanks for linking the articles. Having read through the previous posts it adds weight to what I had initially thought.
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#28 ww2ni

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:37 PM

I agree with James S.

It is an indictment on the Republic of Ireland regarding the shameful way the men and women who served in BOTH world wars have been treated – Even now there is resistance to the long overdue amnesty for servicemen from the Republic who left the Irish Forces and joined the British Forces to fight the Nazis while De Valera did nothing.

There was a TV show called “Irishman at War” or something similar, regarding one of the many citizens of the Republic who served, in his case in the R.A.F., and the way he was shunned when he was back home.

I have seen both the memorials James S refers to.

The 16th Irish Division and 36th Ulster Division fought side by side at Ypres.

I have been researching the young woman from the Irish Republic who came north to serve in WW2 and was killed when an ARP Warden.

Only in recent weeks have I been able to have a photograph of the headstone of a man, who is buried in Dublin, but was killed at R.A.F. Ballyhalbert during WW2.

My opinion is that if the people of the Republic of Ireland have any feelings regarding the sacrifice made by many thousands of their nationals in past, and indeed current, conflicts while serving with the British Armed Forces then they should wear a Poppy rather than be intimidated by those narrow minded, blinkered people who have no time for any opinions other than their own.
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#29 Spirit of Dunkirk

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 12:50 PM

Well said. And that's what angered me about the football player who took a symbol of remembrance and turned it in to something it isn't and never has been. The poppy is predominantly about the two world wars and encompasses all the fallen allied troops. To relate it to the troubles in Ireland was in my view small minded and disrespectful.

Typically and hypocriticaly by snubbing the poppy he was actually disrespecting his own country men who had the desire to fight against a tyrant.
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#30 muggins

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:19 PM

You can't force someone into taking the same point of view, the guy had his own reasons. I don't see what criticising him achieves. Lots of people don't wear poppies without attracting comment.The times I've forgotten to put mine on or lost it somewhere.
I think you can make too big a big deal out of what is a personal choice. Doesn't mean they are unwilling to remember the Fallen or being disrespectful. And if they don't care, there are enough who do.
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