Poppy Appeal 2014: The two best reasons to buy a poppy

The Royal British Legion's annual fundraising campaign commemorates the dead and helps the living 

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The Independent Online

In the next few days, flashes of deep red, stark black and bright green will brighten up the dreariness of the autumn weather and the darkening nights.

Today marks the start of the annual Poppy Appeal, which will see people across the United Kingdom pin paper flowers to their lapels in memory of those who have fallen in war and in aid of those who have fought and continue to fight today.

And this year is a particularly poignant one, as it marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, after which the Royal British Legion first launched their annual fundraising campaign.

This morning, a vigil began at the Cenotaph in central London. Entitled The Watch, it is being held in shifts from sunrise to sunset and was inspired by images of the repatriation of the Unknown Soldier in 1920, when guards kept a vigil at the coffin as a mark of respect.

Pop star Joss Stone was among those on the sunrise shift. She has teamed up with guitar veteran Jeff Beck to record this year’s official Poppy Appeal single, a revamped version of the song “No Man’s Land (Green Fields of France)”, which was originally written by Scottish folk musician Eric Bogle in 1976.

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Singer Joss Stone taking part in The Watch

It will be released on 3 November, in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day.

This year’s Poppy Appeal is called “Live On – To the memory of the fallen and the future of the living” and here are two very good reasons you should buy a poppy to wear:

1. In memory of the fallen

Poppies were one of the few signs of life in the aftermath of the devastation of the First World War, which was largely fought in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Belgium and northern France. The poet John McCrae first used the flowers as a symbol of sacrifice in his poem “In Flanders’ Fields” and they have since become a lasting memorial.

Between 1914 and 1918, 888,246 British soldiers were killed and more than two million wounded. Additionally, more than 100,000 civilians were killed.

Since then, there have been many, many more casualties of conflict.  In the Second World War, more than 325,000 British soldiers and 60,000 civilians were killed and, more recently, 179 British soldiers lost their lives in Iraq.

And while the focus of the Royal British Legion’s campaign is on British casualties, we should, of course, remember the millions of soldiers and civilians all over the world whose lives have been destroyed and blighted by war.

2. For the future of the living

Last year’s Poppy Appeal raised £39 million and the target for 2014 is £40 million.

Each year, more than 40 million Remembrance poppies, 500,000 poppies of other types, five million Remembrance petals, 100,000 wreaths and sprays and 750,000 Remembrance Crosses are made in support of the campaign. It takes 350,000 volunteers and staff to organise the Poppy Appeal and all the money raised goes to support the Royal British Legion’s welfare work for the Armed Forces community.

 

You can donate by buying a poppy between now and 11 November but the charity collects contributions all year-round.

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