Paxman and Poppies...worth a read.

I have no particular affection for Jeremy Paxman, just a bloke doing a job and have no idea if hes pro or anti forces. This article, which I have edited for brevity, is in my opinion well written and counters the argument that we eat babies...etc etc. Enjoy!

JEREMY PAXMAN: Wear a poppy ... for the lions killed in war, not the donkeys who send them there
Last updated at 10:11 PM on 01st November 2008

The first sentence of the daily diary of Earl Haig, the British commander in the First World War, is remarkably banal. 'Fine day but cold and dull,' begins the entry describing November 11, 1918.
As it turned out, the day was anything but dull. And it was certainly fine: after four years of warfare, at 11 that morning, the guns would be silenced.
At the same time on every succeeding Sunday morning closest to November 11, next Sunday included, many of us pause to remember that moment.

Ninety years on, what are we doing? It was all a very long time ago and recollection demands an ever greater act of imagination. There are now only three men alive who survived to the Armistice.

It is not just that the interval of time is so great. Most of us simply have no sense of what military life is like: a couple of generations have passed since we could all expect to have spent part of our lives wearing uniform. There is not a single person at the top of Government with first-hand experience of service life, let alone of the terror of combat.

The men and women who send our soldiers to war - and that devout Christian Tony Blair sent British forces into action six times in five years - have never had to carry a gun themselves.
In that, they merely reflect the nation they lead: we have become flabby and comfortable and the Army, Navy and RAF are remote tribes of which complacent civilians know little.

In marking the anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, we do not, as my pacifist friends claim, 'fetishise' war or applaud it as a way of solving problems.

Many of us may profoundly disagree with the ambitions and distrust the motivations of the politicians who send soldiers, sailors and air crew to do jobs they could not do themselves.

What we're taking part in is an act of respect, not for warfare but for the poor sods whose task it was to carry guns and who did not return to grow old, as the rest of us grow old.

So, let us silence the offensive claim that by honouring the dead we condone war.

Doubtless, in the early days of the First World War, there were a few boneheads who went off to the front thinking the whole thing a bit of a lark. But the vast majority weren't like that.

I have never forgotten having tea with an old boy who had become a brigadier in the First World War. I was 19, about the same age he had been when sent to Flanders. What brought me up short was his remark that he knew that when he arrived at his sector of the front, his life expectancy was two weeks.
'When those of us who survived came home,' he said, as he laid down his cup quietly, 'half the chaps we'd been at school with were dead.'
The rituals enacted across the country by men and women, old and young, the religious and the atheistic, are not taking place to glorify violence but to respect the memory of those young people. It is an entirely different thing.

Every country sees history through the prism of its own contribution and to the British the First World War is always about the trenches of the Western Front, with perhaps a nod at the Dardanelles, Lawrence of Arabia or the Battle of Jutland.
But for the Italians, it is the horrific fighting in the Alpine snows at the Battle of Caporetto; for the Russians, the war's animating role in the Bolshevik Revolution, and for the Australians, a (highly distorted) propagandist example of the way callous Poms sacrificed heroic Diggers at Gallipoli.

This is not to downplay the British Empire's contribution to the war.
More than 900,000 young men from the Empire had futures they never tasted. Two million more were wounded in some way: footballers who returned from France with no legs, breezy, confident teenagers reduced to shuddering ghosts, handsome children who were to spend the rest of their lives with no face.

The way things are going in Afghanistan, British soldiers could still be risking life and limb long after Tony Blair has retired to his country house and a seat in the House of Lords.

I shall wear a poppy not because I believe the gun is the best way of settling disputes, still less because I admire the pretence, ambition, folly, vanity or desperation of the politicians who make the fateful decisions.

I shall wear a poppy because an act of remembrance once a year is the very least that those of us who have not been asked to risk our lives can offer those who did not have our choice.
Good article.
A message appreciated by those who naturally care and lost to the many who don't care.

A young man I work with turns 18 on Nov 12th. "The day after Armistice", I said. He was clueless to what I meant. After suggesting clues he eventually said, "Something to do with poppies"? He's a charming, hard working and polite young lad but like many of his generation he is just unaware of the world around him. He wears a poppy but does not know what for.
nice words by paxo. George Orwell wrote"people sleep peaceably in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" And like it or not the critics only have their freedoms because of the rough men from nasby to helmond it is easy to be gobs***** As Shakspear put it " and gentleman at home abed shall hold their manhood cheap for they are not here"
Excellent message by Paxman. I agree wholeheartedly.

It is a shame that our youth are not educated about what the act of remembrance is all about. People should know how their freedom was bought.

Having said that. There are plenty of adults that know nothing about it too.
Nice one from Paxo. I like his idea that the poppy is worn not just to remember the fallen, but to remember everyone who has served.

It's not just about the morning of July 1st 1916, or 6th June 1944 or the other 'big pushes' being fought even now. It's about the quieter moments as well; the sacrifice of time by young British troops that could be spent with their families in order to put an effort into helping people, whether in Afghanistan or Bosnia, when nobody else gives a damn.

That's why I wear mine, anyway.
Well written - Great sentiment. The issue being raised will, in turn, provide wider education to some of those who haven't a clue what the poppies are all about.
very good article ,anyone happen to see timewatch last night, michael palin on the last day of the great war, very sobering
after last night paxo and palin rock
Very good article, just read it down the pub. Palins programme last night was superb as well, saw him on the news this morning, he said Timewatch did the research and he was asked to front the programme....very honest bloke and carried it well. Unfortunately I was so knackered I fell asleep in the middle of it, should I be shot at dawn? 8O
dear slik
prob on bbc website, just saw the program on henry allingham brill what a wonderful od squaddy

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