The poppy - strong as ever

WHEN Canadian surgeon Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae sat down with pen and paper during a lull in the Battle of Ypres, he could never have guessed the poem he would write would have such a lasting legacy.

It began with the haunting: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow; Between the crosses row on row.”

From that moment remembrance had a symbol - the little red poppy.

It took until 1921 for the first Poppy Appeal to be launched, but when the little red blooms appeared, it was a runaway success.

Worn by young and old, rich and poor, it has gone from strength to strength ever since, uniting the country like no other symbol.

Back in 1921 few needed to be reminded about remembrance. There had been 570,000 Scots in uniform, and more than a quarter had been killed.

If your family hadn’t lost a member, you’d be sure to know a family that had.

It is often forgotten that since 1945 our servicemen have been involved in over 20 wars. The veterans from all these conflicts are all wearing the poppy this month, knowing it represents their fallen comrades, too.

The cost of our military past is a price that we must continue to pay and in this respect the poppy has transcended symbolism to become a core fund-raiser.

Countless acts of benevolence would have been impossible without its humble inspiration.

The poppy has come to represent both war and peace, hope and sacrifice, but it also reminds us how we could have suffered and how, thankfully, we have not.

The World War One soldier-poet Richard Aldington wrote of us: “You are the future of a far-flung past; you are the generation for whom we wept and died.”

This is the crux of Remembrance. From long ago to the present day, sacrifice and remembrance.

From an article written by Neil Griffiths, Royal British Legion Scotland