'In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow' But Will They Grace Your Lapel?

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.
                   -- Canadian John McRae, May 3, 1915

The poppy has become a lightning rod for nationalist politics in Ireland through the decades after the Armistice ended 'The Great War' -- at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Emblematic of mourning for those who died in the war, poppies -- everpresent in British ceremonies marking the war -- were typically eschewed in Ireland. They were, in many minds, a display of solidarity with those countrymen who served Ireland's oppressor. That view was far from universal, though fear of criiticism undoubtedly kept many Irish from displaying the poppy emblem. So we ask, will you be wearing a poppy this Remembrance Day weekend?

Check out The Wild Geese's coverage of Remembrance Day / Veteran's Day


Tags: 20th Century Ireland, Australia, Britain, Canada, Discussions, Events, New, News, War, World War 1, More…Zealand

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I don't see why not I honour both Americans and British who fell in the American War of Independance and the War of 1812. Many Americans honour the dead of both sides and re-enact in their uniforms and carry their flags, including Loyalist units. So it does happen, go to a re-enactment and talk to some of the Americans in red coats and even Loyalists and you will see what I mean.

I have honoured the Irish who fell in the '98 on both sides. One of my ancestors fought and died with  the patriots at the Battle of Ballynahinch. Another about a hundred years later was an Orangeman. But then thats the Irish for you, only shades of grey.

The picture on my posting is an Irishman who was murdered by fellow Irish men not in Ireland but on the streets of New York. On the 13th July 1863. He was the Colonel of 11th New York Vols. (Ellsworths) he lies in an unmarked grave in New York, and died defending the city from the rioters.It would be a nice gesture in the 150th Annivesary that some effort be made for his memory. He had been a Captain in the 155th New York.




Wow.  That's a powerful question, Rónán.  The short answer is…probably not.  I'm a third generation Irish American.  Today I read an article that raised the same issue. I believe it was written by another Irish American.  The author shared your viewpoint.  I believe he said, "I'll wear the poppy when the Brits start wearing the Easter Lily."  I can understand that sentiment.  But at the same time, were the tens of thousands of Irish who lost their lives in the Somme any less Irish than the ones who stayed and fought for Irish freedom at home?  I'm not sure it's fair to say that the Irish who fought in WWI were "fighting against their own people."  Fairer perhaps to say that they were fighting on behalf of their own people, albeit under the cloak of their oppressors.  Maybe that doesn't make it any less palatable for you, and it is your absolute right to feel that way.  But here we're talking about singularly unique times in both world (as well as in Irish) history that happened to intersect spectacularly around 1916. Just a guess, but I would surmise that you have neighbors whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought in the War for Irish Independence, as well as neighbors whose ancestors fought in Europe.  Is a life sacrificed for a cause you happen to believe in somehow more significant than one sacrificed for that which you scorn?  Your decision to make, but in my humble opinion, any man who would sacrifice his life for what he believes is a just cause deserves to be honored.  Death is the great equalizer, and the Irishmen who fought in WWI were to their way of thinking fighting for Ireland as surely as those who stayed home and fought on their own soil for Irish freedom. Would you go so far as to call those men traitors to Ireland?

The poppy is a symbol, and symbols have as much or as little meaning as you personally attach to them.  So as others have so eloquently said earlier in this thread, the meaning you choose to ascribe to it is for you alone to decide.  Personally, I like the idea of the green poppy.  Because it recognizes the Irish lost in WWI, yet likewise honors the spirit of nationalism. Regardless, it's worthy of careful consideration.  Because isn't the way we choose to honor our ancestors inextricably connected to the way we honor (or dishonor) each other?  

I am not sure but a one time did people in the U.S. not wear the poppy for Memorial Day perhaps Ger could look into this?  I don't forget the German people, I do WW2 interpretation in schools and make a distintion between the Nazis and ordinary Germans. I also mention the 24 hour bombing of Germany which was much more then Britain or the U.S. got. Micheal you forgot the Japanese who suffered from the unquie event of not one but two nuclear bombs!  The poppy in not a national symbol it represents the flowers that cover the fields of Belgium, they also grow on American battlefields. If nothing else vist a vetrans cemetary and leave a rememberance on Memorial Day.

 There is no nationality in a grave.


"Fuzzy nostagia of the poppy" from the Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/the-fuzzy-nostalgia-encoura...

Ger, I have worn a poppy in the past in memory of my grandfather's first cousin, Cpl Martin Gleeson, 19th Battery, 9th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, who was blown to pieces just 26 days before the end of the Great War. I can no longer, however, bring myself to wear a poppy because of the way that simple, beautiful symbol of remembrance has been hijacked and politicised in Britain during the last decade by various jingoistic, nationalistic and pro-British military groups.

This all began in the wake of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, initially as part of what I think was a genuine ground roots call to "support our troops" irrespective of whether or not you believed the invasion was just. This was taken up by the right wing press, such as The Daily Mail, which put pressure on everybody to wear poppies and "outed" those who didn't as being somehow not patriotic.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1326063/Jon-Snow-poppy-fasc... 

During the last few years this "poppy fascism" appears to have spread into almost every aspect of British life (while I'm typing this I'm also watching the TV show "Match of the Day" - highlights of today's football/soccer matches - and all of the teams, which contain many foreign players, are pressured into wearing kit with poppies embroidered on the chest, or sleeve, and parties of soldiers are on the pitch before each game, leading a minutes silence. There was none of that in Britain 10 or 15 years ago). And rather than remembering those who fell during the Great War and WW2, the focus now appears to be supporting the "heroes" of today (all British soldiers these days are heroes regardless of whether, or not, they have done anything heroic, and to say otherwise is unpatriotic, and possibly a sign that you support Islamist terrorists). What really leaves a nasty taste in my mouth though is the way that several right wing, and far right, political organisations, such as the United Kingdom Independence Party, The English Defence League, and the British National Party have jumped on the bandwagon, and use this rebirth of patriotism/nationalism/jingoism to cloak their vile bigotry and racism. They appear to be supported in this, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps wittingly, by the Royal British Legion which organises the annual poppy appeal. For instance, the social club of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment's Coventry branch of the British Legion is used to hold regional meetings of the neo-Nazi English Defence League.

I will continue to remember Martin Gleeson, and my other relatives who served in the Great War, but not by wearing a poppy. And I will not honour them in any jingoistic way but rather think of the futility of a war that caused such a waste of young life, perhaps with the help of a film such as Oh! What a Lovely War (the final scene) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqrc46ouZz8 or the comedic but poignant final scene from Blackadder Goes Forth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH3-Gt7mgyM

I absolutely do, and always will.  As a Canadian Veteran, I wear it to pay respect to ALL of my country's fallen, regardless of the conflict.  And I will wear mine red, the colour poppies are.  We've got our own 'debate' in Canada on whether white 'peace' poppies are acceptable, with the argument "for" being that red poppies glorify war.  In my opinion, white poppies are not acceptable.  To paraphrase a quote I read earlier today, which I couldn't agree more with, wearing a red poppy no more glorifies war than wearing a yellow daffodil glorifies cancer. There are all manner of symbols and colours out there for different organizations to use to champion their cause.  No need to ride on the coattails of someone else's.

Anyway, a bit off track from what you all are talking about, but still poppy related anyway.

If a foreigner is  a guest on a Canadian talkshow will they be forced to wear a poppy or an American flag on  US TV? most Irish being interviewed on British TV go with the flow and accept the poppy pinned on their label even though they did not request one. What happens if they say no?

Here is the interesting perspective of a British WW2 veteran:


"I will no longer allow my obligation as a veteran to remember those who died in the great wars to be co-opted by current or former politicians to justify our folly in Iraq, our morally dubious war on terror and our elimination of one's right to privacy."

Wearing mine for James Hodges Kelly RN.

And for great uncle Billy Rowney (rt):

And for Jim Kelly RN

Mayo Peace Park and Garden of Remembrance--Castlebar, Co. Mayo (August, 2013)


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