Remembrance Sunday

Has wearing the poppy become a symbol of unthinking militarism?

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What's going on?

Today is Remembrance day, the one time a year we stop to pay tribute to those who served in wars across the centuries and around the globe. But is the poppy, worn as a gesture of solidarity and support, more a celebration of military action than a reminder of its terrible cost?

Case for: A tainted symbol

There are a number of good reasons why one might choose not to wear a poppy. It's a symbol that has bled into a kind of generalised, unthinking militarism. Yes, we all have a duty to remember those who died serving their country, and to support the soldiers who, in circumstances we mostly can’t imagine, are still putting themselves in harm’s way for our sake. But people have every right to feel uncomfortable donating to a cause and sporting an emblem so firmly wrapped up with wider support for military action.

Case against: Grow up

So wearing the poppy offends your sense of yourself as a vibrant individual with unique tastes and interesting thoughts? So what? Get over it. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices and band together for the greater good. A generation of men and woman learnt that lesson the hard way during the two World Wars. Many men and women continue to make great sacrifices in defence of your freedom. All you have to do is drop a coin in a collection box and wear a poppy. If that's the greatest injustice you have to rail against, lucky you. The British military must have done a pretty good job.

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The poppy has become a symbol of unthinking militarism

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