It is the time of year again when people unite in wearing a vibrantly red poppy in honour of the war veterans of the past century.

Therefore there was shock and outrage emerged when it was stated that Poundland had banned its employees from wearing poppies on the shop floor, simply stating “it is not part of the dress code.”

Poundland has since made a U-turn on its decision.

Furthermore, the BBC World television channel has also banned its TV presenters from wearing them; apparently “it is simply not recognised or understood by the channels global audience.”

The BBC are not alone, FIFA are also refusing to allow England to display a poppy on their shirts for the team’s friendly against Spain this coming weekend as FIFA rules prevent changes being made to a home kit.

The final straw for some war veterans has come with the Royal British Legion being forbidden from collecting in Birmingham’s City Centre due to an application system which only allows one charity to collect on the High Street at any one time.

The tradition of wearing a poppy was founded ninety years ago on this coming November 11, are we becoming neglectful to our traditions and morals?

The Poppy alone, symbolises bravery and loss, and is worn not only for people who fought in the World Wars, but for the Korean, Malayan and Vietnamese wars, and the more recent, such as the Iraq war. It is a universal symbol especially when finding out more about its origin.  

In 1915, at the battle of Ypres, a Canadian Professor-turned Medical Doctor and Artillery Commander, Major John McCrae, excruciatingly witnessed the death of many soldiers, including a young man and former student of his, whom he also conducted the burial service for.

In his pain and anguish, he sat by his grave in Ypres and vented his anger in writing a poem. This poem is now famously known as ‘Flanders Fields’ and recollects the losses that are now lying in the field of the same name, where many wild-poppies flourish.

An American lady, named Moira Michal, an admirer of the poem, hosted a meeting for YMCA Wartime Secretaries in 1918; in which, on receiving a donation, proclaimed to spend it on poppies in remembrance of the dead.

A fellow French secretary Madame Guerin conceived the idea of selling artificial poppies to raise money for the needy soldiers and their families. Finally, in 1921 the British Legion was formed, and Earl Haig decided on the 11th November 1921 that the poppy was to be its renowned emblem.

So why are some of us becoming neglectful of tradition that stemmed from such deep impressions? Is it because, from the comfort of our own homes, we cannot conceive an idea of what warfare is like?

The only debate we should be questioning is to which side do we wear the Poppy? The answer traditionally, is on the left side, over your heart. However, as long as you wear one should be all that matters.  I will be wearing my Poppy come November 11, and I have faith that many people will still continue to do the same.

“We cherish too, the Poppy red that

Grows on fields where valour led.

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of our heroes never dies.”


Moira Michal


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