Is it Anti-British not to wear a poppy?

Is it Anti-British not to wear a poppy?

Facebook Opinion War

Yesterday I witnessed a post that chastised an Irish Football player who plays for a British football team for not wearing a poppy. The posts main image was a head shot with the word “traiter” written on his forehead. The post text then went on to say

“He refuses to wear a poppy on his football jersey….name and shame…..disrespectful, ignorant, anti-British”

And then call for the club in question to sack him. They obviously haven't considered the legalities of sacking somebody for refusing to wear a charitable emblem.

I had until this time respected this Facebook group and also followed them on Twitter but as soon as I commented on their post I “unliked” and left the group.

A poppy is a personal choice

Whether to wear a poppy or not comes down to personal choice and should not be dictated by the minority or even the majority. The moment that it becomes a sense of social duty to wear a poppy the poppy itself loses all of it's meaning.

A poppy is meant to reflect an individual's personal remembrance of the fallen from all the wars. In my opinion it is not only meant to remember those of British origin who have lost their lives. No doubt the Facebook group fails to recognise the work done by members of other nations Armed Forces as part of the British Nation. In my mind poppies represent respect and remembrance for all those who have fought and fallen in order to save their way of life. Be they British servicemen killed in Afghanistan; German soldiers killed in the World Wars or even members of the Zulu nations in the late 19th/early 20th century conflicts.

Personal Remembrance

After spending 2 years of my life on tour as part of the British Army I have lost several friends and I am sure that like me they did not fight for people to be forced to wear poppies.

An image of rows of poppies

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion

No Remembrance Ceremony for me today

Unfortunately today I am choosing not to go to the remembrance ceremony that I usually attend in Barnsley Town Centre. I instead shall be watching it on BBC TV. Does this make me Anti-British too? If people choose to feel that way then so be it. As it happens my 5 year old son is doing his favourite impression of Satan this week and it would be selfish of me to go up to the war memorial and leave my wife to cope with the situation alone (well…she would have the dog). I normally got for a few pints afterwards with my neighbour to celebrate the lives of fallen friends as is tradition. I’m sure those have fallen will understand my decision to stay at home and support my wife.

I haven’t even bought a poppy this year yet

As of yet I haven’t even bought a poppy this year. Does this mean that my employer should also sack me (ok, I’m self employed so that doesn’t count). As it happens I like to buy my poppies from a certain old veteran that stands in the centre of Barnsley each year as he is a pleasure to deal with. The fact that I haven’t seen him yet would mean nothing to this Facebook group. I have however purchased a British legion t-shirt and car sticker which are both still in their wrappers but the poppy watchers will not see this.

I wear poppies throughout the year. When I am having a bad PTSD day or to commemorate a certain anniversary. A have a many poppies placed throughout my home and I often get weird looks from people when I wear a poppy in March. No doubt they want to know why I am wearing a poppy when it is not November.

A poppy is not just for November

An act of remembrance is not just for November: it is one that can be carried out anytime to show that we are remembering the fallen.

An image of the Cenotaph

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion

Are poppies losing their meaning?

When the wearing of poppies becomes a social task and something that one thinks they should do because that is what is expected of them then it loses it's meaning.

Barnsley Veteran refuses to wear poppy because of MPs

This year as Mark Ansell tweeted a Barnsley Veteran will no longer wear poppies as he believes that MPs have hijacked the who thing. After watching the video feed I have to agree with his sentiments that the wearing of poppies is becoming the expected thing. I do not agree with him regarding MPs hijacking the occasion but then I believe that unless one has suffered human loss due to war then they can never understand and can only sympathise with those who have.

So is it Anti-British not to wear a poppy?

Well… you decide. My opinion in that it is neither ant-British nor dis-respectful. There may be many reasons why people are not or don't wish to wear a poppy and I along with many many others fought for the right for the individual to make that choice all by themselves.

Rant over so enjoy the rest of your day

Over 87,000 signatures for the release of Marine A

Opinion War

I was shocked today to learn that there is a petition for the immediate release of “Marine A”. It appeared on my Twitter feed as

 

 

I see things differently and I imagine differently than a proportion of my fellow ex/current servicemen/women. Instead of it being “For 15 yrs he stood up front for you” I read “He had 15 years to learn the Geneva Convention but didn’t bother”; let me re-phrase that – After 15 years I can guarantee you that he knew the constraints placed on him by the Geneva Convention but took a concious decision to ignore them.

Before anybody tries to argue that I would have done the same in his position I shall give you a little of my military background.

I have been in charge of specialist small teams with no backup for tens of miles in either direction, I have taken P.O.Ws myself and I have seen much action in my 3 Tours of Iraq and 1 Tour of Afghanistan and I am extremely proud if the fact that I have abided by the Geneva Convention constraints.

As the commander on the ground (usually in charge of 3 other people in a role I cannot and will not disclose)  I often had to make snap decisions while under enemy fire and I never did anything less than what was expected of me.

Marine A made a concious decision to shoot a person. When he did this he had that very person under his protection. That’s right, you read that correctly the first time. He was under the protection of Marine A. The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War sets out clear guidelines on how injured combatants should be treated. Once he found the Taliban member injured he had a duty to dress his wounds and protect him from further harm. It may indeed be argued that the person in question was a civilian and not a combatant.

The recorded audio was quite damning. Marine A was not under enemy fire when he shot his Taliban prisoner. He was calmly in conversation with 2 sub-ordinate marines. As part of Marine A’s duties he was in charge of showing a good example to his 2 younger marines.

In my opinion Marine A not only committed murder he disgraced his uniform and his country. Now the Taliban are able to say “It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us” when they executed British hostages. No longer are able to hold the moral high ground and we now look like a 2-bit army with no discipline.

The conviction was the correct one under the circumstances and is to serve as a lesson to those in the Armed Forces who think that they can take the law into their own hands.

It is a real shame that a Marine who devoted 15 outstanding years of his life to the protection of his, Queen, Country, Brigade and fellow Royal Marine Commandos made such a poor decision. Perhaps he was suffering from the effects of war and was lead by them. I know that part of war only too well as I myself suffer from P.T.S.D. Indeed this is one area where the British Military needs to change. On the face of it The British Army is trying to offer mental health help but I have been informed by many of my ex-colleagues that in reality the fear that many Service personnel still have about P.T.S.D being a career killer is in fact still the norm.

What do you think?

Which ever side of the fence you sit on I would welcome your thoughts on this subject. Am I being harsh or have I hit the nail on the head? Please let me know in the comments section below.