The Poppy: Not political, not religious, but Remembrance (10 November 2011)

On Monday I spent a humbling hour at the newly opened Field of Remembrance on Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

It’s the first such tribute to fallen soldiers in Edinburgh and compliments the established Garden of Remembrance.

Strolling along the rows of crosses with individual names, thanks and words of remembrance written on them it’s hard not to feel something tugging at your heart, and it’s hard not to acknowledge that the work the Poppy charities do is as important now as it ever was.

This is why I am completely outraged by FIFA. Yes, they’ve U-turned and are allowing England to wear the poppy on a black armband but I am left wondering why it was ever an issue. FIFA rules say that a players shirt (note “shirt”) must not show something that is political, religious or commercial (aren’t shirt sponsors commercial and also displaying the name of the company that makes the shirts?).

Well, those rules are fine but how do they relate to the wearing of a poppy? A poppy is a simple thing, it symbolises remembrance and nothing else. There is no hidden meaning behind wearing the poppy, no political message about war, no religious message about whose religion is right and whose is wrong. When you wear a poppy you are remembering those who died in any conflict in any part of the world. This may be someone you know or many thousands that you don’t. When you buy a poppy you’re also helping the poppy charities to help those ex-service personnel and their families overcome various difficulties that come upon them when they leave active service. Those difficulties come in many forms including emotional and physical. It’s not political, it’s not religious. Wearing a poppy is remembering.