Wednesday 16 November 2011

Other Poppy's

I wrote a few days ago about the Red Poppy that people choose to wear on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. I also remarked about people who chose to mark the occasion by wearing a White Poppy because they were pacifists. I was surprised to learn that there are other coloured poppies that are also worn.

The first one I was to learn about was the Purple Poppy.  Inspired by the comments about the care given to a critically wounded animal. One of my readers wrote to me about the Purple Poppy. This was completely new to me. I was aware of the Dickin Medal (The animal VC)  that can be awarded to animals in time of conflict. I knew nothing about the Purple Poppy.

The Dickin Medal was instituted in 1943 by Maria Dickin (Founder of the PDSA) to honour the work of animals in war. It is a bronze medallion, bearing the words "For Gallantry" and "We Also Serve" within a laurel wreath, carried on a ribbon of striped green, dark brown and pale blue.

It is awarded to animals that have displayed "conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units". The award is commonly referred to as "the animals' Victoria Cross".

Throughout the history of human conflicts, animals have often been victims in war. During World War I, dogs and pigeons were used to deliver messages between front line trenches and further afield. Horses, donkeys and even elephants have been routinely used as beasts of burden. While an array of animals have been kept as pets even in the midst of battle.

Today, animals continue to be used in the battlefield often to detect explosives and as perimeter guards. To commemorate all the animal victims, a Purple Poppy, can be worn alongside the traditional red one, or white one as a reminder that both humans and animals have been and continue to be victims of war.

The second one I was to learn about is the Green Poppy. The green poppy is worn as a sign of remembrance for civilian who lost their lives as a result of war. The phrase often used is collateral damage, collateral casualties, civilian casualties or sometimes friendly fire. Collateral damage is unintended or incidental casualties to the intended outcome. The phrase is prevalently used as an euphemism for civilian casualties during a military action. The phrase has frequently been used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and more recently in the Libyan conflict to conceal the killings of thousands of unarmed civilians, in the so called War on Terror.

I must admit that I was a bit dischuffed at FIFA's stand on a ban on the wearing of the red poppy. Their claim was that wearing the red poppy was a political statement and one that had no place in sport. Whilst I don't agree with their view, I am beginning to wonder if the real ethos behind the wearing of a red poppy is being diluted. Being brought about by the change from the poppy being worn out of choice. Now there seems to be an expectation that almost like the requirement to wear a tie in public, a poppy should also be worn.

Do you remember the lady who was dismissed from her airline job for wearing a crucifix. Or the driver who was suspended for having a crucifix in his cab. Yet, if I was a Sikh and I wanted to wear a turban, then that would be OK!

Is it me, or has the world has gone Topsy Turvey!

Rainbow Poppy
Then I had this thought - why not have a rainbow poppy so that we can express ourselves without taking sides or being thought of as being pseudo political.


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