November 05, 2009

The White Poppy Campaign

The poppy commemorates those who have died in war. The tradition was started by American teacher Moina Bell Michael, who sold silk poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-service community. In 1920 the poppy was proclaimed the national emblem of remembrance in the US, and in the UK, the first poppy day was in 1921.

Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow famously refuses to wear a poppy on air, reportedly saying he does not want to bow to "poppy fascism''.

Purple poppies are worn in remembrance of the animals which died in war. In World War One alone, around 8 million horses, mules and donkeys died. Today, dolphins and sea lions are trained and employed by the US Government for minesweeping ‘duties’.

White poppies date from 1933, when the Women's Co-operative Guild wanted a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars. But the Royal British Legion refused to be associated with their manufacture, and so the Co-operative Wholesale Society took on production. The intention was not to offend the memory of those who died in the Great War, but feelings ran so high that some women lost their jobs in the 1930s for wearing white poppies. The intention today is still supportive of our armed forces, but not of the wrong-minded politics which lead them to war.

White poppies today are a symbol of those who do not subscribe to the hypocrisy of praying for peace while preparing for war. They are worn in Peace and Remembrance and the wearers show an intention to move society beyond the scars of history to a positive future free from war.

They were young and went heavy to battle
They fell, unsure who was the foe
With compassion and love
We transcend the past
To the peace they desired
Our last heroes of war

Move beyond the scars of history with the White Poppy Campaign this weekend, and wear your poppy for Peace and Remembrance lest we forget the way forward.

Wear your white poppy with compassion and love.
White poppies can be purchased at

What you didn’t now about war

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