It’s Becoming Easy to Forget Them…

An interesting aside on Radio 4 this morning: the social etiquette of maintaining a minute’s silence in the workplace today suggests that most people consider it frowned upon to talk during it, but many still send emails and check social networks.

We are becoming less attentive. We’re finding it easy to forget. The web distracts and fragments. We have things to do. Before long, conflict will creep up on us, but we will have forgotten why.

Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?
Selling poppies in town today.
The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
For the men who marched away.

But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.

But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child.
The blood that our soldiers shed.

The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy.
Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.
For the men who never came back.

But why, Mummy are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child,
For the world is forgetting again.

Author unknown.


7 responses to “It’s Becoming Easy to Forget Them…”

  1. Seems to me even the act of remembering is tied with politics and jingoism, and in that sense, refusing to co-operate with the prevailing view is an act of pacifism.

    It is more than time that we stopped associating 11 November with our glorious war dead and instead mourned the destructive effects of violence which characterise our lives.

  2. I’d agree in some ways: much of the ‘act’ of remembrance that goes on is an act. The poppy-fascism, the pomp and jingoism… all of it is a bluff to prevent genuine memory – the painful memories of what war is actually like. So in a strange twist, Remembrance Day is a way of forgetting, by covering over the real truth with ceremonies and nostalgia.

    However, the problem with non-action is that is is often indistinguishable from apathy, and thus amnesia. What we need to do, as so often is true around Christian festivals too, is to re-remember, and this is often achieved by some trickster act.

    Which is why, in an odd way, perhaps the most powerful act that has helped people remember is the woman caught urinating on a war memorial… Although she had no intention of it, her introduction of dirt served to cleanse the place of the rotting pomp that prevented people getting to the real memories.

  3. I was wondering your thoughts toward some of the poppies available on the Royal British Legion website this year. These include a crystal encrusted broach, as worn by Simon Cowell on X Factor. Is this remembrance or does it boarder into fashion? Should we be glad that it’s raising money or be concerned?

  4. I vote concerned. The commodification and commercialisation of death.

  5. I’d second ‘concerned.’ Smacks of attention-seeking, rather than quiet remembrance. You wouldn’t catch these celebs in trenches, they’d be pleading special consideration. It’s not bloody Red Nose Day.

  6. Nope, it is bloody poppy day. How many lives will it take before they realise that too many people have died? The answer may as well be written on the wind for all that this country seems to notice.

  7. Thanks for sharing Kester, beautiful poem