Ecojon’s Personal Thoughts and Feelings on Poppies and Remembrance

I was sitting on Friday night and had settled down to watch the TV news and was treated to some glorious repeat footage of the Green Brigade card display which I am sure stunned Barcelona.

But then came a story that was so touching I sat and cried – if Rod can do it so can I. The news item was about the devotion of a 90-year-old Dutch woman who had tended the grave of a Scottish soldier for 60 years. She knew nothing about him except his name and gravestone details but had kept her faithful vigil because, like countless other Dutch people, she had ‘adopted’ the grave of a fallen soldier who had fought to free her country from Nazi tyranny.

It got me thinking about Remembrance Sunday when I always spend some time contemplating the price paid by our military personnel in answering the call to duty when our Nation has been under threat and, in particular, my relatives and their friends.

And in that strange way that the mind sometimes works, I began to think about the wearing of poppies and Remembrance Sunday and the differences of opinion they have created at Celtic Park.

I recognise how very personal a choice it can be for every individual whether to wear a poppy or not and how it can influenced by a variety of factors which may well be unique to some people or groupings within our society.

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I think it really important when viewing the above to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields  as the poem written by a Soldier War Poet in 1915 was attacked for its call to continue the fight although early war poetry tended to be much less cynical than what followed as the casualty count inexorably mounted.

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There is no doubt that, in recent years, the wearing of poppies has struck a note of discord for a number of reasons and I will return to this but firstly I would like to recount some personal experiences.

I am old enough to have had the privilege and honour of knowing both my grandfathers who fought in the Great War – The War to End All Wars – and other male relatives as well as their friends and neighbours who also served.

Discussions of wartime experiences just didn’t happen as far as I could see except between ex-soldiers although sometimes the women would mutter, mainly under their breath, strange phrases  like: ‘never been the same’. Only as I grew older did the missing bits begin clicking together and I started to see and understand bits beyond the veil. It is to my everlasting regret that I never tried harder to learn and understand more from ordinary people, especially my relatives, who experienced either war directly or its consequences.

I also came to realise the suffering of the generation of ‘Old Maids’ who had never married after losing their soldier sweethearts to the Western Front or Dardanelles but this was only ever referred to in hushed almost reverent tones. One of my first primary teachers, a beautiful person, was an ‘Old Maid’ and I can still clearly summon-up her image, warmth and vibrancy to this day and feel a deep regret at the waste of her remaining unmarried and never having kids of her own. And yes, she was my first love 🙂

But I was also growing-up surrounded by servicemen who had fought in WWII and there was a bit more openness about their experiences but not a lot and my own dad was well into his 50s before he began to recount some of his experiences and how they had changed lives.

One thing basically missing during a large period of my early life was the wearing of poppies by these ex-soldiers and their families. As I matured I began to think that they had no need to wear poppies for a few short days as they remembered fallen comrades and their own experiences, more days than not, for the rest of their life.

With my grandads and their generation it was a deeper more visceral reaction with neither allowing a poppy in the house. Eventually because I was a pain in the arse – yea even then – my maternal papa explained to me it was because the poppy had the letters ‘EH’ on it for ‘Earl Haig’ and as he said the name he spat on the black range and let rip with a few choice words with my granny getting really annoyed and telling me tearfully: ‘Now look what you’ve done’.

And what had I done? I had brought back all the horrible memories of the utter squalor and extinction of so many of his mates in the trenches and he got terribly drunk that night. Oh what a callow youth I indeed was on looking back. However, I researched and came to understand Haig’s role in that terrible war of attrition on the Western Front and slowly understood the revulsion for the symbolism of the poppy forged in my grandfather’s mind although revisionist history now paints a different picture of Haig.

Field Marshal Douglas Haig

OK let’s move on. As I grew older and the WWI generation faded  away I began to remember those I knew on Remembrance Sunday and as the WWII generation also started to disappear, and has now all but gone, I almost religiously watch the annual Cenotaph Ceremony from start to finish.

Watching the proud veterans remember their old pals, who never aged, I too remember my relatives and people I knew left seared by the deep psychological scars of war and the emotional damage it caused to my own dad as shown when he threw his WWII medals into the fire after being demobbed and returning home.

So, after a long journey of understanding, I look upon the words: ‘Lest We Forget’ in a possibly different light from some others because to me it means ‘Lest we Forget’ that there is nothing glorious in war and that remembrance has nothing to do with glorifying military exploits’.

‘Lest We Forget’ is all to do with remembering the sheer loss, waste and tragedy of those who gave their life in answering the call of duty and the pain and hurt of those left behind. Since the Vietnam War era I have also been able to look further than our own military casualties to those of indigenous populations and even ‘enemy’ soldiers and it only multiplies the sheer futility of it all.

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Reading the words on the Ari Burnu Memorial near Gallipoli makes me think that perhaps the Turks are much further down the road to realising that the dead and injured come from more than one side and their loss and suffering is ultimately a tragic waste which would have better been avoided.

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I accept that there can be ‘just wars’ but the more widely read and educated I became I started to see that the roots of conflict are often deeply rooted in economic and territorial expansionism when looked at in the cold light of day long after the Jingoism has faded away and the only remaining testament are white crosses, war memorials and grieving friends and relatives till they too fade away.

And even more disturbing has been my growing unease that the routes to war when examined tend to throw-up deep misgivings in me as to whether there had ever been genuine attempts to prevent the conflict or whether all that was on show was an elaborate tick-box PR exercise designed to ‘persuade’ the populace at large that every possible avenue to give Peace a Chance had been exhausted and that the only alternative was war.

This is no reflection on the courage of the brave men and women who answer the Nation’s call but more an indictment of the poppy-bedecked politicians who use the powerful symbolism involved as a cloak for their diplomatic failures, lust for carnage and sometimes a harking to return to the Great Days of Empire.

I now seriously question what makes the Nation make that call to arms on certain occasions and I feel sure Iraq and Afghanistan have pushed the British public to a tipping-point and I really hope that people power will ensure no more such wars are waged in our name because IMHO our intervention in these countries wasn’t worth the life of one British soldier.

Whatever the reason given for Iraq intervention it was in reality about oil and regime change which we achieved only to leave behind an unstable murderous vacuum which shows little signs of ending. Also worth remembering, looking back in time, that Britain created this artificial State and thus sowed many of the seeds which led to the recent Iraqi wars.

And Afghanistan – I have given up trying to figure out why we are there and what we are supposed to be doing except reinforcing a corrupt Kabul regime and trying to change a culture stretching back to the mists of time. The country is producing more poppies than ever as we, with our Western superiority, try and change an ancient male-dominated tribal culture to mimic a western democracy where women have equal rights.

A poppy field in Afghanistan

How long will any of this last once we have pulled out? How long will the corrupt government last before decamping to Switzerland where they have stashed billions of dollars? And how many dead and injured soldiers will be left to mark our failure to think this through before becoming entrapped in an unwinnable war more to do with geopolitics than saving Britain from narcotics. And how many civilians, who allowed themselves to believe our PR, will be left, literally swinging in the wind, when we abandon them as we have done repeatedly throughout history and the world when it suited us.

Our Brass Hats failed to read not only the British history of military failure in Afghanistan but the terrible failure of Russia whose actual military losses there are still kept secret from the Russian population.

So what has all this got to do with Remembrance Sunday and poppies? Quite simply, we should all beware of Establishment attempts to glorify failed military exploits by shamelessly using our dead and wounded as a diversion. I personally will always support our troops and remember that they can’t question the orders given and if they do it doesn’t just mean possible imprisonment but walking away from their colleagues and risk exposing that tightly-knit group to increased danger through removing expertise and cohesion.

And I reject the line that soldiers know what they are getting into, are well-paid for what they do and no one forces them. Sadly,  economic necessities have driven many of our youngsters into The Forces over the years with the dole queue the only alternative.

In recent years there is no doubt that the branding of the Poppy Appeal has become highly professional and the terrible losses and injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan will stretch charity resources for decades to come. It’s easy to point the finger at the Government and say it’s consciously ‘using’ our military casualties to deflect public attention and scrutiny away from the failed politics that have landed our troops in a deadly morass where ‘victory’ is impossible.

I suspect that to be the case but have no proof other than my gut feelings and a healthy disbelief in what the vast majority of politicians claim to be true. Meanwhile we are left praying and fingers-crossed for the day when our troops can march away with their heads held high not for serving a political dictat but for keeping the faith with their comrades.

And I can never remove the constant thought from my mind that if the politicians really do appreciate the sacrifices of our troops then why is it so important that the financial assistance required to rehabilitate and support them has to be raised through charity? Should our grateful Government not be the one to dig deep financially as their failures or ego, in the main, led to the troops being deployed in the first place?

I am well aware that there may be an anti-war demonstration against St Johnstone today and our enemies are already salivating at the prospect and ratcheting-up their internet campaign of hate.  Our club has experienced many attacks since its foundation and has no illusions about how some in Scottish Society have viewed it and we will weather further storms and collectively be strengthened by arguing for the right of individuals to reach their own decisions on this issue – I honestly believe those who have laid down their lives for this principle would have no difficulty in finding agreement with that.

The poppy link with football is fairly recent and personally my Remembrance is a very deep and personal experience and not one to be ‘celebrated’ at a football match. I firmly believe that the decision to remember or not and in what way must always remain personal and because someone does remember or wear a poppy does not mean it is wrong for others not to do so.

Obviously Celtic has historical links to Ireland and it has supporters from there. It would be disingenuous of me to deny that some fans have no love for some of the actions of the British Army and because of my own family connections with Ireland I well understand these feelings.

A lot of Celtic fans, while recognising the club’s linkage to its Irish Heritage, have no problems with the British Army and are proud to wear a poppy and indeed many have served and still do in that army and others have given their life fighting in it. Many former players and supporters now rest in foreign fields and care nought for the religion or lack of it of the comrades who remain beside them forever.

I don’t regard differing opinions over Poppies and Remembrance as a sign of weakness or division in our support but part of the strength of our club which encompasses a very broad spectrum of society, bound together by a love of football and Celtic; a hatred for needless wars; and compassion for all of those adversely affected by the carnage they create.

I have added some songs and links which explore some issues on Poppies & Remembrance much much better than I ever could and I hope you will find them interesting.

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I’m a big fan of Eric Bogle and I often listen to his “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” I like the imagery of the June Tabor cover and the haunting quality of her voice is well suited. But if it is gritty you want you’ll find that in the Pogues version.

And Hamish Henderson – one of the most beautiful and gentle of Scots it has ever been my pleasure to know and spend a little time with. His music is an inspiration to all – check out especially: “Freedom come all ye” sung by Arthur Johnstone at:

And, of course, the D Day Dodgers penned by Hamish while serving in Italy in WWII inspired by Lady Astor’s jibe accusing the Eighth Army of deliberately avoiding the Normandy invasions by taking things easily during the Italian campaign where my own dad served in the Royal Navy so again it has personal significance for my remembering. This version was sung by Hamish Imlach – what another great Scot and like Hamish a sad loss.

And if you want a beautifully irreverent version celebrating the Canadians presence in Italy still with the Lili Marlene tune:

Historical & Modern War Poetry:

http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/

Origins & History of Poppy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_poppy

Alternative Views on Poppy & Remembrance:

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/blood-spilled-in-war-is-now-a-fashion-accessory-2926554.html

http://www.thecelticwiki.com/page/Controversies+-+The+Poppy+Appeal

Posted by Ecojon

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106 Comments

Filed under Guest Posts, History, Remembrance Sunday

106 responses to “Ecojon’s Personal Thoughts and Feelings on Poppies and Remembrance

  1. “It would be disingenuous of me to deny that some fans have no love for some of the actions of the British Army and because of my own family connections with Ireland I well understand these feelings.”

    There are somethings Paul that can never be forgotten. To deny what happened is to deny the history of those who died. Lest we forget.

    • ecojon

      @ Chef Files

      I actually wrote the piece and I deny nothing but let’s not have tunnel vision when dealing with history.

      During the Civil War there was more Irishmen killed by Irishmen than during the Uprising by British soldiers and also more atrocities. All I have tried to do was make a plea for peace as opposed to war and although we should never forget perhaps if we were able to forgive then together we would build a better society.

    • The silver fhox

      Please read ecojon’s article again. He does NOT deny anything. In fact his account is very open and embracing of all sides. He has argued from his experiences and clearly has an emotional understanding of all sides. It is easy to simply state cliches.

  2. josephmcgrath112001809

    Good article, well written. Just at the right time. I agree we should not forget those who gave their lives and those whose lives would never be the same.
    I do question the poppy. I donate but don’t wear it. If we really remember then we would avoid war.
    Unfortunately our politicians all wear the poppy and are too quick to send service personnel into harms way for invented reasons. I don’t wear the poppy but neither do I forget the lessons of wars.
    The twentieth century was a disgraceful century of warfare. I had hoped for something better in the millennium – some hope.
    War has never been the answer and never will be.

  3. josephmcgrath112001809

    Oh, and by the way; plenty of Irishmen fought in both World Wars. Anyone who thinks this has anything to do with football is just as stupid as the politicians. Ask any soldier – respect for all who served – whatever side.

    • ecojon

      @ josephmcgrath

      You are so right when you say: ‘War has never been the answer and never will be’.

      Sadly our politicans see the political advantages it can bring and ignore the blood and gore that their short-term expediency demands of our troops.

      As to squandering this sacred sacrifice for unworthy purposes well I have enough faith left in me to know: ‘Ye shall reap what you sow’.

  4. Martin Carroll

    I have known Arthur Johnstone for over 25 years, not only is he a Antarctic singer, Trade Unionist and historian he is also a Campaigner for civil rights and human rights and a really nice man.

  5. TheBlackKnight TBK

    Ecojon, thank you. A very well written piece on a truly emotive subject.

    I had exactly the same feeling watching the womans dedication. Something, through her faith (perhaps duty) she has passed onto her children and grand children.

    For me, it is now about the futility of war. The poppy is no longer a symbol of remembrance but that of trashy triumphalism and unedifying duty. We observed a team today sport weaponry and display of servicemen in uniform in some bizarre display of support for what? War?

    This has nothing to do with remembering the fallen. The poppy has been hijacked! Those who gave their lives selflessly (often murdered by the command of their superiors) for our freedom should not be used as some sort of justification for conflict, past or present.

    I support the right of anyone to wear a poppy, or not to. This is what they died for, democracy.

    Tomorrow I will show my democracy by reverence and I will be remembering my loved ones who served in both British & Irish Armies, the Celtic players Willie Angus who received the VC, John McLaughlin, Archie McMillan, Leigh Roose, Donnie McLeod, Robert Craig, Peter Johnstone, and ALL those who fought and were lost or lost a loved one in WW1 & WW2.

    • ecojon

      @ TheBlackKnight TBK

      Thankyou and thanks for reminding me that when that lovely Dutch angel passes away that her ‘duty’ will pass to her children and then to her grandchildren.

      I am no pacifist and sometimes there is no alternative to war but it should always be the last resort and I am so pleased at Obama being re-elected because he realises what a futile road it ultimately is even when justified.

  6. easyJambo

    A well thought out and written post. My personal view is that “commemoration” of the fallen is right and I have loads of respect for those who currently serve in the armed forces. However, the recent trend towards “lionisation” is wrong and is one that is driven by politicians to deflect on their failings, more than anything else..

  7. Joseph

    Thanks Ecojon. That was brilliant. Are you sure you were not a journalist in your past life. The article deserves a wider audience and worthy of publication in one of quality newspapers. Well thought out with real meaning in each sentence. Again, thanks for the read. We should remember our dead in our own hearts.

    • ecojon

      @ Joseph

      I watch all the Z-list celebs on TV adorned with their poppies and I wonder if they have ever had a moment’s contemplation in their air-heads as to what Remembrance actually means to people who have suffered the loss and pain caused by war.

      Their wearing a poppy cheapens everything it should stand for and any decent person well recognises that.

    • ecojon

      @ Joseph

      I should have added: How many journalists do you know that speaks from the heart and is interested in reconciliation and building bridges towards a lasting peace rather than creating aggro to increase circulation?

  8. Alex Doherty

    As someone born in Ireland i find the poppy offending.Not for the soldiers of 1914-1918 or 1939-1945 but that a charity that benefits from the poppy supports the men of the british army who killed my friends and country men.I lost my grandfather in the 1914-1918 war when he thought he was fighting for the freedom of small nations.His life was lost in vain as his only daughter was born in a 32 county Ireland only to die in a 6 county Ireland .

    • ecojon

      @ Alex Doherty

      Tbh Alex I have no doubt that WWI could have been avoided but there were many reasons why war was decided and none of them took account of the lower strata of society who would be required to fight it and die in their millions.

      Yes our ‘Wild Geese’ did go and they might not lie by Pierce’s side but could they ever have been given more love than that given by the Dutch woman in the war that followed the war to end all wars?

      I don’t believe for one moment that your grandfather’s sacrifice was in vain but in the current thread I have no wish to allow the Dark Forces an easy opportunity to attack as I value all of our war casualties more highly than that.

  9. Scots

    Great article Ecojon,thought provoking and heartwarming in what is becoming a very bitter debate,about a very complex subject.I also know Arthur and you are so right Martin,lovely man and singer.As for the the coming together of the Hamishs’ ,Hamish Hendersons great songs were among the very best my father sang.

    • ecojon

      @ Scots

      I had so many good nights in the Star Club and I can sing a wee bit myself 🙂 Has got me into trouble on occasion as well but such is life.

      What a great folk scene we used to have in Glasgow and what great gritty songs that had a real social and political message sung by absolute legends.

      Yea, I realised I should have made it clearer which Hamish I was referring to – got them a bit mixed-up. Two totally different types but each so unique and giants as human beings.

      • Scots

        no,they were life long friends,and Hamish i hope brought the songs and message of Hamish Henderson to many people,always among my favourite songs growing up(no confusion).The Star club was great,many a great night there also,loved Arthur singing the song about John McLean,forget the name:)

        • ecojon

          @ Scots

          It’ll be The John McLean March – it was after he had been jailed for sedition and he was escorted back to Glasgow from Saughton jail I seem to remember. I wasn’t quite old enough to be there you understand 🙂 But read about it and had relatives who marched on the day and whose eyes were alight when they told me of the experience over 50 years later.

          Lots of versions on youtube

          That’s the Dick Gaughan version.

          Happy listening and another great Hamish Henderson song.

          • Scots

            The very song,great to hear it again,thx.Hadn’t realised it was also a Hamish Henderson song , brings back memories of my teenage bedroom with the John Mclean posters adorning my walls.

  10. TheBlackKnight TBK

    To follow is a series of tweets from a blogger for ESPN

    The tweets relate to a young Irishman (James McLean) from Derry, who plays in the EPL and who chose not to wear the poppy.

    To my mind ybe following is SHAMEFUL!!!!!!!!

    @crstig: I’m sure McClean thinks he is justified, but he is disrespectful, ignorant and wrong. Should remember where he is earning his wages….

    @crstig: Bloody Sunday was a tragic cock up. I get that, but McClean is misguided in disrespecting war dead over it. It’s a football match.

    @crstig: (blaming the British forces for Bloody Sunday) That would like me labelling all Irish catholics ‘terrorists’ which would be wrong.

    • ecojon

      @ TheBlackKnight TBK

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the comment: ‘It’s a football match’.

      What more can one say?

  11. JohnBhoy

    The imperialist butcher’s apron has a bloody history. India, America, Africa, Ireland, The Great War, Afghanistan, to name but a few controversial conflicts fought in our name. On the other hand, the Second World War has been viewed by many as a necessary and just war.

    Wearing of a poppy is similarly controversial. There are those who wear the poppy and do so honestly out of a genuine love and respect for soldiers killed serving their country. There are those, including myself, who refuse to wear the poppy because to do so would glorify unnecessary and unjust conflicts. Poppy-wearing has also been hijacked by both the mob and the patriotic. One only needs to look at how Rangers unashamedly go overboard with their links to the armed forces (what has sport got to do with war?). For some it is a symbol of defiance, of look at us, we are more patriotic than you. It has also become a symbol of the establishment, a pro Union Jack statement. Rule Britannia. Who is not with us is against us. When I see newsreaders fighting to out-poppy each other, then I know that Samuel Johnson was right when he made his famous denouncement of ‘self-professed patriots’.

    The war poem that inspired poppy-wearing – In Flanders Fields – is no Anthem for Doomed Youth or Dulce Et Decorum Est. On the contrary, it was an unashamed recruiting sergeant for the armed forces, urging our youth to continue the “quarrel with the foe”. Hardly an exemplar for love and peace.

    I will remember the war dead, including those civilians killed in Ireland and further afield, by re-reading Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The poppies I’ll leave in the fields, where they belong.

    I’ll end with a different memorial, an excerpt from Sassoon’s ‘Memorial for an Honest Soldier’:

    Thus, with a formal and unfeeling show,
    Contemporaneous life performs its part.
    History records careers; and does not know
    The secret memoirs of the human heart.
    But while I watch prestige step slowly out
    Like actors in a mediaeval pay
    I can’t suppress ironic thoughts about
    The ‘representatives’ who’re here to-day.
    The man they wear silk hats for has meanwhile
    Entered his unmolestable immunity;
    And can afford, as dead men do, to smile
    Serenely at this G.H.Q. Community.

    • ecojon

      @ JohnBhoy
      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/assed-baig/poppy-remembrance-_b_2052098.html

      The above is the perspective of a muslim on wearing a poppy which is very interesting.

      Regarding ‘Lest We Forget’ I specifically chose that poem because it was used as a recruiting ‘poster’ but that was when the war was young and hopes were still high for an early end and honourable victory.

      Almost all of the early work of the Soldier War Poets were similar in tone and it isn’t till 1918 and after the war end that the cynicism works its way in big-style. Of course for those who died before the onset of war weariness their work didn’t alter nor age – in a sense like the young who died did not grow old.

      John McCrae who wrote the poem at the front in 1915 for a friend who had just been killed died himself of pneumonia in 1918 so we will never know how his poetry and message might have changed had he lived and that is perhaps the greatest tragedy of all the lives lost because we will never know what gifts were lost to society.

      McCrae wrote the poem just before his friend’s funeral and crumpled the paper and threw it away but it was retrieved by a fellow soldier and we don’t know why McCrae discarded it.

      I would have thought it might be a natural reaction that in writing the poem that he pledged to avenge his friend by the metaphorical handing over of the ‘torch’ but did he change his mind and perhaps that’s why he discarded the poem having decided to reject fresh violence as the answer.

      We just don’t know but the fact that the poem was used in the way it was has nothing to do with its creator and at the time it was what popular feelings demanded.

      It may be pushing things too far but is it possible that taking up the ‘quarrel’ with the foe didn’t require killing him and I ponder on the use of ‘torch’ instead of gun or bayonet or similar. It’s just that the poem end seems so at odds with its beginning.

      I also think there is a strong counter-argument for holding WWII to be a just and necessary war without fully understanding how the Treaty of Versailles directly led to the fall of the Weimar Republic and created the necessary socio-economic conditions for a dictator to flourish. A German perspective of the 1930s would most certainly hold that it was a just and necessary war that they embarked on in 1939.

      But that is another very complex subject which I have neither the time, energy or interest to pursue.

      • JohnBhoy

        Ecojohn, there was nothing complex about Hitler. Evil, pure and simple. A strong counter-argument for not opposing him? I’m all ears. Also, many war poets wrote and spoke out against the horrors of The Great War well before its conclusion. ‘Cynicism’ belittles their heartfelt opposition.

        • ecojon

          @ JohnBhoy

          I made no mention of Hitler but spoke about the perspective of the German people and indeed in the beginning of this period it wasn’t a given that Hitler would necessarily emerge as leader of his party.

          Personally I have never seen Hitler as ‘evil’ but more just stark staring bonkers.

          My argument is quite a simple one and that is that the settlement terms and reparations exacted by the Allies at the end of WWI, mainly at French insistence, sowed the seeds of WWII by grinding Germany, its institutions, economy, and its people into the dust and it is in that sense that I say, particularly if you were a German in that period, that WWII is not as clear-cut a just and necessary war as it may seem at first sight.

          There is no doubt that, at a certain stage, this perspective no longer mattered because we ended up with a madman in charge and a German people marching solidly in step behind him. But we again failed politically by deciding to appease instead of challenging Hitler and we know the rest.

          So there were many stages and times when war could have been averted but we had come through the Great Depression of the 1930s and the capitalists needed a good war. Ordinary soldiers I’m sure were well convinced that it was a necessary and just war when it began but, like most wars, this faded as time passed and casualties grew.

          When I have the time I will go back and re-read the WWI Soldier Poets as my very fallible memory placed 1914-15 as very Jingoistic, as that was the feelings of the troops and public as well, but the main change came from 1917 onwards. I also seem to remember that the start of the disenchantment came from soldier poets suffering from shell shock who had been hospitalised back to Britain.

          When I studied the poetry, and it was a long time ago, I seem to remember believing this separation from the battle and the personal psychological trauma suffered might well have provided a different perspective on the war. And a factor which may or may not be important is that a lot of junior officers such as lieutenants and captains seemed to be poets and they tended to be in the trenches with the troops and in the thick of the fighting. Although, perhaps again, my memory could be faulty.

  12. Thanks ecojon, although for me, you could have stopped at the ‘Lest We Forget’ bit, but that may be saying more about me than anything… no matter, I think the problem lies (yet again!) in people’s perceptions.

    I spent most of my youth hating the idea of poppies, thinking that they were yet another ‘order from on high’, manufactured caring or whatever, backed by authorities that caused wars in the first place. I still feel a bit of that, but I also realise that the main reason for wearing one has more to do with honouring the actual PEOPLE who sacrificed their lives – and when you think of it, what other way do ordinary people have of showing this?

    If you look at it this way, it’s really not a lot to ask that at least there’s one day to honour those who have died, especially those who died pointlessly because of some stupid or inept politician or general’s views or orders.

    Perhaps we should devote more of the rest of the year to making sure the stupid and the greedy don’t cause more such deaths? And maybe work more to give a showing up to those who use the day for political or religious ends? After all, to me, those who want to make a big thing about poppies are probably making a political or religious point themselves – it’s nothing about that, it’s about individual people.

    I have a poppy on my coat this year. I don’t have it every year. But when I wear it I know why I do, and it’s nothing to do with supporting the ‘army’ or the ‘government’ or anything else but the poor souls who have died.

    • ecojon

      @ Kenny McCaffrey

      Kenny – all that matter’s here is the individual and recognising their sacrifice and whether a poppy is worn to do that or not matters not a fig – it is what is felt in the heart that counts and that’s what makes sure they will never be forgotten.

      I often wonder when I listen to the names being read out at every PMQ whether anyone in the HoC could repeat them by the end of the 30 minutes – even the Parliamentary MPs for the fallen.

      • Could the PM include the reading of the civilians home and abroad killed by the resultant actions of an invading or occupying force, namely british forces? Doubt there would be any time left for the business questions if he did………….

  13. Excellent piece EJ.

    I will reserve my own thoughts and feelings but having travelled through Iraq Syria and Libya in recent months I see nothing to be proud of in the poppy now and probably never really have.

    The sentiment of rememberance should also include the millions of civilians tortured, murdered, raped, left homeless, without a life worth in many cases living. These are still propogated by “our” western governments and very close to home as well as abroad.

    These are the real victims of the politics and armies of the so caled western democracies. It happens daily while the west rolls on living in the luxuries of life with prepacked ready made meals and take aways while driving in fuel bought by innocents blood and tears.

    The areas of so called conflict are left destitute and devoid of any dignity.

    Lest we forget……….

    • ecojon

      @ michaelk1888

      It’s funny how the mind thinks depending on your standpoint and when I saw all this sh*t about no benefits if you have more than two kids I thought well obviously we are going to be using more drones in future and don’t need boots on the ground.

      • @ EJ
        Very true …the removal of ground forces does not or ever should be mistaken for the the removal of the choke hold that remains in situ, example the US Embassy in Baghdad, 20,000 embassy personell remain there today plus dronesand levels of electronic warfare soft and hardware to make the mind numb. Tell me they have removed themselves from the theatre in this or any other country or occupation, I don’t think so. Some 5,000 in the embassy in Amman not to mention the field bases dotted around the gulf states. When these are removed back to US then I’ll believe that they US and western gvmts are seriously considering peace and the countries of occupation might just relax and start building their own lives without political interference from the west.

        With cameron this week rejoicing the sale of further weapons off mass destruction and oppression being sold to the UAE its peace never time all round. USA is already accepting and granting rebuilding tenders for Syria, incredible though it may seem, other Iraq becons next year me thinks.

        • ecojon

          @ michaelk1888

          They called Syria wrong and the opposition has probably lost control to the extremists so I think you may well be right and a bloodbath of the Alawites seems on the cards as well.

          Talking about Cameron I don’t know if you spotted when he made a trip to China meeting the leadership he was wearing a poppy and was asked to remove it because of the offense it causes there with its linkage to the Opium Wars.

          He refused – obviously hasn’t a clue about how the Opium Wars or more correctly the Anglo-Chinese Wars were triggered and what they were about. If I was his da I’d be looking for a refund on the school fees because he’s a dud 🙂

          • Richboy

            Cameron was right to refuse to remove the poppy. Who cares about their opium wars, Cameron was totally correct to honor our fallen heroes in the traditional way. Apologists like you are too willing to give up our heritage for the sake of our enemies hating us less. Whats next, Sharia Law throughout Britain. Grow some balls man.

  14. JohnBhoy

    Well said Michael.

  15. Richboy

    In all honesty, there should be no need for a debate. If you want to wear a poppy then wear it, if you don’t then that it is your choice. This is still a free country after all.

    What annoys me more than anything is people who denigrate those who wear the poppy as a genuine mark of respect for our fallen soldiers. No one on this forum has the right criticize people they don’t know and suggest they are wearing the poppy as support for war, deflection of poor policies, because they are “air heads” etc.

    Eco, many of those people may well have the same personal memories as yourself and chose to remember their fallen family members in a more traditional way.

    I also take umbrage with those from countries outside the UK that criticize how we honor our fallen soldiers. Celebrate your own in whichever way you chose and butt out of our business and traditions.

    As for Obama being reelected, he is nothing more than Neville Chamberlain in sheeps clothing. His constant apologies to Islamic countries whose citizens are perpetrating acts of terror is very worrying. Mr Chamberlain also though he could avoid war by grovelling to our enemies, look where that got us.

    To end this rant, I do not want the Green Brigade to protest today as it embarrasses the club. I go to games to watch my team and prefer not to be subjected to political crap. However it is a free country and they can do as they wish.

    • JohnBhoy

      I agree with you Richboy, it is a rant.

      • Ditto Johnbhoy,

        Richboy you should consider alternative factual first hand accounts of what citizens of Islamic countries have and still suffer on the basis of lies and meddlings of western governments and armed forces, not the gvmt propeganda forcefeed daily to the masses.
        If one believes these propoganda lies then its your right to do so but I have always found that an informed balanced insight will show the path to the truth.

  16. Mike

    Ecojon,
    thanks for your thought provoking and eloquent post.

    For myself I haven’t worn a poppy since I became old enough to choose, but I do put money in the collection tin. Like you, I long ago realised the role of Earl Haig in the death of the men being remembered by his Poppy Fund, and I would never wear that symbol started by Haig. (As an aside I don’t like charities spending money making stuff anyway, but that’s another argument!)

    However, I recognise that the Poppy Fund is merely a symbol of remembrance of the fallen (both military and civilian) and I have no problem with those who do wear it.

    What I do have issue with are those who actively seek to ensure the poppy is not used at Celtic, since it is my opinion they have an anti-British agenda.

    The poppy should not be used as a political football (sorry couldn’t resist!) by the establishment, forcing it to be sewn on to the shirts of every football team, but I do think that each team and it’s support should show their support for the remembrance by honouring the silence and by not bringing foolish banners to the stadium.

    The silence is to honour the fallen – not the British military – but the fallen. The men, women and children who have died through war.

    I think I am in 100% agreement with your post, but feel the need to make it clear that any anti-poppy or anti-remembrance protest at a football ground is totally out of order, as it would be a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of the event.

    • ecojon

      @ Mike

      I fully agree with your post and I have always been clear in my mind that Celtic is a Scottish Club albeit with strong Irish roots and Heritage. It is first and foremost a football club and given the circumstances of its creation and the widely varied support it has it’s inevitable that politics are part of what fans discuss and are interested in.

      I have absolutely no problem with that or in people advancing their political view unless it is fascist in nature and my personal belief is that should be strongly resisted. But one thing I am clear on is that Celtic should never allow itself to be used politically by any grouping in its support unless that support is democratically canvassed on the issue and a majority found to be in favour.

      However, we are not running a political party so that is nonsense – we are part of a football club and anyone deeply driven by political ideals and a wish to change society using democratic means should join a political party or start their own.

      For me it is enough that the Celtic support is comprised of decent-minded folk who know what the right moral thing to do is and who also have an instinctive feel as to the road they should be on politically. They do not need people operating in the background quiely manipulating Celtic fans and using the club as a recruitment pool for members to achieve their own political ends.

      Not that I have the slightest difficulty in people arguing for their own political beliefs and they have the whole world of the internet to spread their message and converse with Celtic-minded people if they want the majority to move in a certain way and that’s fine.

      But we always have to weigh in the balance what is to be achieved and whether it is positive or negative for the club when a political act or statement takes place at Parkhead. Often the same effect, and sometimes greater, can be achieved without damaging the club and I hope that anyone who protests politically inside the stadium always remembers the potential for damage to the club’s reputation.

      Any demonstration could be held outside the ground but the media coverage would be significantly lessened IMHO because the MSM and Establishments forces ranged against the Celtic Way want the demo inside the stadium so that the whole club and every supporter can be attacked.

      And the reports will be twisted against Celtic by a partial media – we all know that. All I ask that people do is to think long and hard before handing a gift to those who would wish to harm and damage the club especially in times when the sectarian threat meter is rising.

  17. Richboy

    michael1888, Thanks for suggesting I am not intelligent enough to sort out Govt propaganda from real facts and events. I have lived in Islamic countries and have seen the suffering inflicted on some of these people by their own governments. The “Arab Spring” was brought about by people rebelling against the tyranny of these governments.

    My point regarding Obama is that, after his Ambassador had been killed by terrorists, he (and Hilary Clinton) apologized to Pakistan for a “You Tube” video made by some lunatic months earlier. Two weeks later he was apologizing to the UN for the same video. Weakness emboldens your enemy.

    Ronald Regan and Maggie Thatcher were not apologists and they brought down the Berlin Wall. There is some value in the “Diplomacy with Strength” strategy they both employed.

    • ecojon

      @ Richboy

      I’m afraid that to laud Thatcher as having a “Diplomacy with Strength” strategy is quite frankly laughable. Plenty of strength but no diplomacy which might have saved a lot of body bags in the Malvinas.

      What possible justification was there for The Falkland except to secure an election victory for Maggie and the prospect of oil. And our rights to the oil based on our good old Imperialistic principles of grab whatever you can.

      We have created absolute nightmares everywhere we have gone and I recommend you to click the “Freedom come all ye” link. We drew national boundaries using rivers and mountain ranges and split the same tribes that lived on both sides of the rivers and mountain ranges into different countries making them minorities usually surrounded by much larger tribes. And we took no account of the huge numbers of the cattle-based nomadic peoples involved whose traditional migration routes were denied them. They are all still living to this day with the madness and murder we created purely to exploit their natural resources or occupy a strategic area.

      As to Regan I’m not even sure that they bothered wiring-up the apology response bit of his brain.

    • @Richboy

      I made no suggestions to any effect regarding your intelect.

      I only obseved that you seem only to have a very inbalanced view and express a narrow opinion, which is your right.

      However the “arab spring” was supported …..and still is by US foriegn policy ably in agreement with western powers to secure the oil supplies from Egypt and Libya. (the contracts for the next 10 yrs were switched to China from both countries).

      I accept the oppressive regimes of the middle east and in particular gulf states are disgusting however its their own problem and just because the people rise up does not mean that we should interfere in internal sovereign matters, and specifically not with force as the first response.

      Thatcher and Regan I will leave to spitting image to comment and mimic on as thats the right place to remember both of them IMHO.

      • Richboy

        You did make accusations in regard to my intellect in suggesting that I only listened to Govt propaganda. I am better than that and resource my news and form my opinions from a vast array of sources.

        • @Richboy

          I have read michaelk1888’s reply to you several times & cannot see any suggestion that he accused you of anything or questioned your intellect in any way.

          IMHO you are over-reacting to what you perceive as a personal attack, where there is none.

  18. justshatered

    I’ve never understood this furore. Many armies of many nationalities have committed terrible crimes; the Americans in Vietnam, the French in Africa. However sometimes, in building schools and hospitals, not to mention keeping the population in a safer environment is it inconceivable that they may do some good.
    When things do go bad, and let’s be honest when it goes wrong the damage done is horrific, it is usually the result of political interference, political vacuum, a complete lack of moral leadership from superior officers. In the worst case it is of direct orders.
    I prefer to spend the silence thinking of the thousands of graves of the soldiers OF EVERY NATIONALITY who lost their lives. I used to live beside a graveyard that had a semicircle of over grown graves that marked the final resting place of soldiers who died defending the then nearby airfield. I always felt moved every time I passed by them because, if I remember rightly, two or three were in their teens and the rest, bar one, were in their early twenties. Before anyone responds they were German soldiers and this is the true loss of war; generations lost before their time.
    It is the promise and opportunity that each of these lives were deprived of that I remember.
    What could even one of these people have achieved, what difference could they have made to others because they were not all monsters. They could have lived full lives becoming teachers, doctors etc touching the lives of hundreds who in turn could have made an impression on others.
    The point made about the Dutch woman who has looked after a grave for 60 years is indeed touching. However it is still common place in Holland for school children to take on the upkeep of a grave. During late September every year in and around Arnhem (the bridge too far episode of the War) there is a very poignant series of ceremonies giving thanks for their attempted liberation.
    Perhaps it is because Britain never experienced occupation that we cannot comprehend the gratitude that sections of the population on the continent have for people who came from so far away to assist them in their great need.

  19. Richboy

    The justification for the Falklands (not Malvinas to British people) is simple, a foreign force invaded land protected by Britain. Should we have just let them stay. What if ROI invaded Northern Ireland, should we do nothing. Once again you are attributing decisions made by honorable people as cynical election gimmicks.

    What is genuinely laughable is when people blame the ills of the world on some errors, mostly made in good faith, by people who served their country with great distinction. If it was easy to avoid these problems back then why have we not sorted it. Blaming others long dead is a lame excuse.

    We will never agree on Thatcher. I understand why some people in the UK hate her, I really do. I will be forever grateful to her for dragging Britain up by the scruff of the neck and out of Union control, for defending the Falklands and for negotiating an end to the Cold War through strength and diplomacy.

    • Pensionerbhoy

      Richboy

      Now I know why I will never be a conservative. If I had any doubts, you have just dispelled them. What a deluded interpretation you have of her premiership. Perhaps you feel the way you do because under the said ‘egomaniac’ you made it in the world. Is that why you have the name ‘Rich Boy’. She sure made a lot of them in her day at the expense of a lot more poor ones. She robbed the poor to help the rich then had the arrogance to quote, of all the saints, St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer as her guide. I thought her fantasies only started after she was booted from No.10 but it seems they were always in situ. If there was one thing she was a pass master at, it was hypocrisy and deception. Both seem to have worked wonderfully well with you.

    • JohnBhoy

      So Thatcher is an angel of mercy. Does the ARA General Belgrano mean anything to you? Or what about General Pinochet? You know, the Chilean dictator who had thousands of citizens, including trade unionists, tortured and murdered? Thatcher saw fit to give him sanctuary. Or what about the mining villages she decimated? Still see her as a force for good? She believed that there “was no such thing as society”, that personal gain took precedence over care and concern for the poorest in society. Is that your creed? And where do you get this nonsense that she and her American doppelgänger Regan brought down the Berlin Wall? You are obviously no academic.

      You also celebrate Thatcher’s attack on the trade unions. If wasn’t for the unions your weans would still be working up chimneys. If it wasn’t for the unions you wouldn’t have health and safety rights at work, the 48 hour working week, paid holidays, maternity leave, equality rights including equal pay, protection against unfair dismissal, TUPE rights, pensions, collective bargaining, the minimum wage, unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, and much more.

      Michaelk1888 offers no comment on your intelligence. I do. You are stupid and dangerously so.

      • Richboy

        Resorting to ad hominem attacks does not enhance your argument. My views on Thatcher are every bit as valid as yours. Unions were bringing the country to its knees. As always happens they got too powerful and tried to enforce their demands on everyone else. The argument that “my weans would be cleaning chimneys” is pathetic or don’t you have electricity.

        Closing unprofitable mines and making “nationalised” industries pay their way is the best thing that has happened to this country. No more Union closed shops full of workers sitting on their backsides when they should be working and going on strike at the drop of a hat because some Boss looked at them funny. I certainly don’t miss those days.

        As for the Belgrano, war is war. Pinochet was wrong but I never said she was perfect.

        I did do okay, but did not get wealthy, under Thatcher only because I moved to where there was work and received a just reward for my endeavor. The “Rich” in my username is related to my Christian name.

        • JohnBhoy

          You obviously lack electricity between your ears. Casting aspersions on someone’s intellectual capacity, or lack thereof, when supported by evidence is not an example of ad hominem. You, on the other hand, provide no argument to support your views, therefore you make no advance on your claim to validity. Heaping one despicable opinion upon another is not an argument. Enjoy your financial rewards. Thatcher would be proud of you.

          • Richboy

            Once again with the ad hominem attacks, tsk tsk. I provided plenty of support for my argument that Thatcher was good for Britain, you just refuse to see it.

            My opinions may be despicable to you but the majority of British people agreed with my opinions and continued to reelect Lady Thatcher.

            You seem to me to be a person of immature years, perhaps you could reconsider your opinions when you are older and free from the influence of what were probably socialist parents.

            • JohnBhoy

              If you want to take a pop at me, ad hominem or otherwise, then be my guest, but what was clearly intended as a snide remark about my parents – may they rest in peace – is a step too far. I find your views and haughty air of superiority obnoxious in equal measure. Your intelligence is only exceeded by your ignorance. Go on, spell ‘intelligent’ for us. Here’s a wee clue: I-N-T-E-L-L-I-G-E-N-T.

              Which leads me to the conclusion rich boy that you are one of the ‘chosen people’, a zombie, a fifth columnist, here to spread your Del Boy loads-a-money fittest survive I’m-all-right-Jack we-are-the-people might-is-right keech. Back to Zombieland where you belong, Herr Hun.

  20. ecojon

    @ Richboy

    Maggie Thatcher an honourable person?

    Naw, tae Scots she’s the milk snatcher and always will be 🙂

    Your kind of misplaced patriotism and Jingoism is what keeps sending our soldiers to their death in squalid wars purely for economic interests.

    • Richboy

      Ecojohn, once again you misrepresent me. I have no “misplaced” jingoism or patriotism, but I truly feel where we have agreed to defend a party (the British citizens of the Falklands) then we should honor that pledge, to do less would diminish our society and national self esteem.

      In your world we would avoid conflict entirely and allow our enemies to grow in strength. Perhaps you should rename yourself ecochamberlain. Neville had a populist view that was very soon proved to be deluded by the greatest ever Briton, Sir Winston Churchill.

      Those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to failure in the future.

      • JohnBhoy

        Education is not your strong point rich boy.

      • ecojon

        @ Richboy

        I have no need to misrepresent you because everyone reading your words can form their own judgement as to what exactly you are and what you support.

        However the British Public, after hostilities ended, made a very wise judgement as to what party and direction it was headed for in peacetime and Churchill was rejected just as Thatcher was in her turn and Cameron will be shortly.

        Eventually all hard-line Tories who care nothing about ordinary people and their problems are found out and appropriately dealt with at the ballot box.

  21. Antonious F

    Great post EJ-
    The poppy issue is a political football, pardon the pun, and politics should be kept out of football. people have a right to choose to wear a poppy or not. yet a minutes silence is forced on football supporters and players.

    James McClean has every right to choose not to wear a poppy, or wear one, it’s up to him, regardless of where he plys his trade.

    solution- any fan not wanting to take part in the minute silence, should not take their seat until it is over. wait at the turnstile. go get a coffee. or take a dander round the stadium.

    any player not wanting to take part should be allowed to wait in the tunnel

    once the silence is over, then take ur place.

    • ecojon

      @ Antonious F

      Sounds pretty sensible to me. Flamboyant gestures are seldom IMHO a genuine principled protest but often more of a ‘See Me’ big-headed gesture.

  22. Alex Doherty

    Re Justshatterd
    Britain never experienced occupation.
    What of the Romans the anglo-saxons the celts please please save your story telling to the children
    Your Arrogance is mind blowing thanks for all your help to us downtrodden and ignorant for all your help in keeping us there.

  23. Pensionerbhoy

    ecojon

    “As I matured I began to think that they had no need to wear poppies for a few short days as they remembered fallen comrades and their own experiences, more days than not, for the rest of their life”.
    “there is nothing glorious in war and that remembrance has nothing to do with glorifying military exploits”.
    “This is no reflection on the courage of the brave men and women who answer the Nation’s call but more an indictment of the poppy-bedecked politicians who use the powerful symbolism involved as a cloak for their diplomatic failures, lust for carnage and sometimes a harking to return to the Great Days of Empire”.
    “This is no reflection on the courage of the brave men and women who answer the Nation’s call but more an indictment of the poppy-bedecked politicians who use the powerful symbolism involved as a cloak for their diplomatic failures, lust for carnage and sometimes a harking to return to the Great Days of Empire”.

    I have chosen a few of your statements that resonate strongly with my own emotions on the poppy issue. Personally, I find no enhancement to my feelings by any symbolism. Without trying to diminish the respect due to the war dead by the comparison chosen but hopefully to provide a more tangible example, I do not support Celtic any less when I am dressed neutrally that I do when draped in green and white from head to foot. My prayers for those who give their lives, not in war, but in carrying out their duty, and they stretch far beyond the military, are as constant as those for friends and family. It is not hard to do given the constant reminders in the news of the toll in a multitude of conflicts, military and social. I wonder how many with adornments in their lapels today remembered those who died without being in the military – millions of men, women and children, euphemistically, though I find it difficult to accept respectfully, referred to as collateral damage. I believe now that the symbol of the poppy is more to do with raising money and enhancing the image of the wearer than it is a reminder of the dead.

    What I would wear, because it would symbolise my sincerest wish, is a white poppy. Surely any ‘promotion’ of dead heroes should be for the ideals that they sacrificed their lives for rather than the sacrifice itself. I am sure I hear my sentiments echoed in many war cemeteries. It is interesting that documentaries and films concentrate far more on the ‘dramatic and exciting action’ events of the war rather than on the lessons learned. I wonder how much more this has to do with the volume of content available in either case than ‘lest we forget’. I will never forget for the daily T.V. coverage of battles and wars being fought constantly throughout the world will always take my mind back to the conflicts not only the great wars but those that have raged since time immemorial. Man never learns and history still repeats itself. Learning lessons, I believe, would be a more fitting tribute to all of those who died in battle than a tribute parade that to me only glorifies their actions, good and/or bad.

    Having said all of this, I would never abuse or degrade poppy day. Everyone’s personal view, as you refer to ecojon, is worthy of respect provided it is not forced upon others. Though I might not applaud or watch the British Legion show (another glorification of militarism), I will never be seen or heard disrupting a silent tribute. I have been to local cenotaph events but not with a poppy. I hope my respect and my prayers were no less effective than had I been bedecked even in real poppies.

    • ecojon

      @ Pensionerbhoy

      Funny how you aren’t keen on the RBL Show – neither am I as I find it too structured and somehow plastic. It has never held any interest for me.

      I was in the Scouts as a youngster and attended many ceremonies at our local war memorial but these were the days when you didn’t talk to veterans about their experience. I think that is one of the good things in the last few years that an actual dialogue has sprung-up between youngsters and veterans.

      Maybe if we had been able to talks more years ago we might have been able to persuade more people of the futility of war in arriving at a long-tern solution unless, of course, you raze somewhere to the ground and kill every inhabitant which is a poor solution no matter the problem.

      Whether I agreed or not with the wearing of a poppy I would never question the right of someone else to do so which I feel is probably to do with how I was raised. My mum was an absolute terror when it came to Germans and if she was on holiday and they had done the towel trick she would wander round and throw all their towels into the pool. Not just to make space for us but every single towel and she did it day after day even when there was space left.

      Quite awesome but she hated them with a passion having served in the WRAF throughout WWII and I think seeing so many aircrew die. She never ever changed till the day she died. I actually used to feel quite sorry for the Germans. But she was another one who wouldn’t speak about the war and it’s really funny how much of a closed-book it was with so many people who served. Maybe there is no way of understanding unless you have gone through it.

      I hear what you say about the promotion shouldn’t be about the life sacrificed but what it was given for. But I wonder if that can work when we cannot trust politicians to tell the truth about why our boys and girls are in some god-forsaken hole in the first place.

      And collateral damage is a grossly obscene term to fudge careless slaughter IMHO.

      • Pensionerbhoy

        @ecojon

        There has been some powerful debate and intense opinions on this whole poppy issue all over the net today. I think we all share the same desires even though we find ourselves confused or at variance as to how to express them. One thing is absolutely clear, however, that no matter our experiences, no matter our beliefs, if we do not show tolerance to the views of others then we are lost or as Priv. Fraser would say, “Doomed, doomed”! We ourselves will be the protagonists. In addition, as someone said, the debate is definitely not for 3pm today and it certainly should not lead to conflict among any of us at any time. If anything, the very subject under discussion should draw us towards the settlement of differences even if it turns out we agree not to agree.
        Your tales of mum and family members were memory-tingling as I had similar experiences. I am not so sure I needed the thoughts of my parents and grandparents, however, to form an opinion about conflict. It has never solved anything in history and mankind has learned nothing from it. I feel the path of self-destruction is inevitable. All that each of us can do is try our best to teach others by our words and example that there can be be a better way and that those who lead more often than not avoid stray from the right path. In doing so, we may play a small part in reducing the occasions when solutions are sought on the battlefield. In the end , it all ends up round a table. It baffles me that it takes so much death and destruction for it to get there.
        Anyhow, ecojon, I have enjoyed your article. You have opened up the debate and it has helped lay bare a lot of opinions. Inviting them into the open can only be good for a peaceful outcome. With that in mind, I can now go to bed and sleep in the knowledge that the Celtic family, if not always of one mind, are for ever of one heart.

        Peace to you, my friend and may your God keep you safe.

        My night prayer is in memory of all who have, still do and always will suffer as a result of man’s inhumanity to man.

        R.I.P.

        • Pensionerbhoy

          Should read just ….stray from the right path….If they are avoiding too, they should be in a circus. Wait, the people I am talking about probably are, are they not?

          Goodnight!

    • The silver fhox

      I heartily agree with your sentiments Pensionerbhoy. A silent tribute is important and should be respected. Whether one wears a poppy or not is not important at all.

  24. Steveo

    Brilliant article ecojon sums up what remembrance day should be about – all those who have lost their lives during any conflict & as you say plenty former players & fans have lost their lives in years gone by.

    Lest we forget.

  25. A sound piece of thoughtful writing ecojon.
    The definition of a war is a gun with a mother’s son at either end of it. The poppy has been hijacked by narrow minded jingoists and has now become a euphemism for patriotism. There are many reasons why our young and bravest everywhere join up. Unemployment being a big factor. If you don’t have a job in this country you have very little. You are stigmatised as a misfit or a scrounger and are stereotyped as such. Its not what the fallen fell for.

    I would like to ask. . .if we can’t guarantee our citizens a job especially our young people who are leaving school with qualifications and hope in their hearts. . .what are our soldiers fighting for? If we can’e guarantee our elderly and infirm a secure pension and a home with care for their twilight years. . .what is our soldiers fighting for? If we can’t have job security or the right to retire before we fall down with exhaustion without a pension what price is freedom? What is it that our soldiers are fighting for?

    I suspect that its the system that they are fighting for and nothing else. The same system that keeps us in misery and poverty all of our working lives. Our soldiers are fighting for the queen and the country and that is another euphemism for the capitalist system that had to be bailed out by the very people that the system is avenging itself on.

    Perhaps we also need to remember what the fallen thought that they were fighting for as they laid down their lives. A more just and equitable society and not the ravaging greed of a capitalist system that has disturbing similarities to many of the evil ideologies that we thought that we were fighting to rid ourselves from.

    The poppy’s jabbing pin is well hidden.

  26. Budweiser

    @ Ecojon

    A very thoughtful piece of writing, which expresses my own feelings much more eloquently than I could ever have done, and for that I thank you.
    When you speak about recent wars and their causes you say;” Afghanistan–I have given up trying to figure out why we are there ” As usual it’s oil. See ; www thedebate.org/thedebate/afghanistan.asp . “Whatever the reason given for Iraq involvement, it was in reality about oil and regime change”. Yes of course it was. But the underlying reason was the threat to the’ Petrodollar’. If you google [iran v usa petrodollar] there are umpteen sites to explain the petrodollar scenario here’s one; http://www.youtube/watch?v=C9lpGn0M5E. It’s like you say;” they go through an elaborate tick box exercise and end up with no alternative to war”.
    Iraq and Libya both threatened the petrodollar hegemony. Look what happened to them. Iran is next – not because of ‘building nuclear weapons’ or any of that crap, but because they,initially, wanted to sell their oil in euros and laterally were willing to sell their oil in a barter scheme to India and China. We ,over the coming months, will see more and more about the ‘dastardly Iranians’ and how we must fight this ‘threat to world peace’. Watch this space.

    • ecojon

      @ Budweiser

      Our Arabists used to be the finest in the world at understanding what was going on in that world and why and although oil is of primary importance to The West it is not the necessarily the dominating influence for the Middle Easter dicatorships whether military or monarchical.

      But we allowed all that diplomacy to be swept away in favour of American ‘shock & awe’ and look where we are now.

      I accept your reasoning on the Petrodollar and have always been suspicious of what Cameron is up to in Europe where it doesn’t suit the ‘Special Relationship’ to have a politically unified, economically strong Europe which makes the Euro a real contender against the Dollar.

      Iran as well as its zealots has a hugely ‘westernised’ percentage of its population which is highly cultured and educated and their power-base and counter to the power of the ayatollahs was deliberately destroyed to remove their moderating influence and help ignite the Iran/Iraq conflicts back in the day when we actually backed Saddam. Oh what a twisted web . . .

      And you are right Iran is next and Israel is primed to be the flashpoint but even there in recent years more and more ordinary citizens are breaking-free from rabid Zionism to understand that long-term survival can only be guaranteed by truly living in peace with its neighbours although it may well be too late for that – The constant failure to reach a settlement by the US and Britain playing games is designed just to keep the pot simmering.

      As to the Arab Spring I believe that Egypt was pre-organised and not a true people’s revolt although, as always, they were led onto the stage to lay down their life in martyrdom no differently than the troops of most nations at some time in their history.

      I don’t necessarily agree with you on Libya as I find it and the other north African states to be very difficult to understand because as well as oil there are a helluva lot of other factors at play which if not different in each of the states certainly are ‘weighted’ differently in significance.

      But these tend to be more the bit-players and supporting acts to the main players in the oil game where the US & Britain concentrate their efforts to secure oil and make ginormous arms deals with weapons which come with a tested ‘in-theatre’ guarantee. If it wasn’t so sick it would be laughable as the rich Arabs recycle their petro wealth back into Western economies with houses in London & New York, schooling their children at and leading the good life in general away from the morality police who keep control back home.

      However, I have wondered a bit off course but that is the problem because it’s all linked and the internet, for the first time, has opened up the opportunity for ordinary people to start coming to grip with the complexities and politics being exercised, in their name, on a global scale.

  27. timtim

    I am no pacifist and sometimes there is no alternative to war but it should always be the last resort and I am so pleased at Obama being re-elected because he realises what a futile road it ultimately is even when justified.
    ———————————
    Im afraid his “record” is worse than Dubya’s (no mean feat)
    he is without doubt a “war criminal” .
    He claimed the first thing he would do on election would be to shut Guantanamo – 4 years later its still in operation
    He has double the drone attacks on Afghanistan in 4 yrs that Bush
    achieved , he continues to attack Pakistan .
    What rights did he have to get involved in Libya
    It is his administration that is funding much of the turmoil of the Arab Spring
    Have you read the Patriot act and the NDAA act that he introduced on his own people.
    Behind that polished orator is no man of peace and freedom
    Judge a man by his actions and not by his words .

    • 100% agreed Timtim, Obama has wholeheartedly turned on his words and promises and caused more grief and sorry joining the war criminals of Bush, Blair, Brown and Cameron. I do believe though that Romney would have brought more death and destruction and sooner rather than later.

      • timtim

        My condemnation of Obama was no promotion for Romney
        They were both bought and paid for(by the same elite cabal) and regardless of the election the outcome was always going to be the same .

        • ecojon

          @ timtim

          I have great hope for the break-up in the WASP elite in America and hope that the growing Hispanic influence might lead to better things.

    • ecojon

      @ timtim

      I look at what we might have got for a US President and shudder in terms of what effect that would have had on the global body count. So I am over the moon that Obama has been re-elected – can you imagine what would have happened to the poor in America if the Tea party Bampots had a clown to manipulate in the White House?

      But Afghanistan isn’t his war he inherited it and to his credit I think from the beginning of his Presidency he was looking for the escape-route as he didn’t want the body bag count of US soldiers continuing to rise.

      His doubling (and I haven’t checked your figures) of drone attacks has a two-fold purpose as far as I can see militarily. It is an effective way of disrupting terrorist activity without having to put boots on the ground. I don’t say that in an unfeeling way with no regard to the civilians who are murdered in these attacks btw but to argue against the attacks we must understand the military mind-set.

      The military argue that the terorists are often embedded within extended families in a compound and use the faulty logic that the terrorist has put their own family at risk or that the family know what’s going on and should move away from danger.

      There are many sides to that argument but I do not see the US or Britain reducing drone attacks indeed I think the drones will become ever-more sophisticated in detection and attack capabilities. In a strange sort of way that might reduce casualties but there is no guarantee of that.

      As regards Pakistan it is quite simple and that is because that country shelters, supports and finances terrorists for its own political ends. Its military secret service is the agency which not only liaises with top level terrorists but provides them with the highest quality information and equipment to carry out attacks on Afghan citizes, police and soldiers as well as Allied soldiers.

      It has long been made clear to the Pakistan that when they eject the terrorists and stop supplying them then the attacks will stop. So this is not as cut and dried an issue as it appears on the surface.

      Obama didn’t introduce the patriot Act as you claim – that was George W Bush in 2001. Sadly in times of fear when internal populations are attacked it invariably leads to the passing of restrictive legislation which often damages civil liberties. Politicians, secret services and Military Bigwigs obviously jump at the opportunity to increase their powers.

      However we should never forget that when the very fabric of our Democracy is under attack then it is necessary to react strongly and in that process it’s sometimes difficult to protect the civil liberties of every individual when that of the whole must not only be achieved but be the first priority. That is the reality of life with all its imperfections and injustices and is another example of the ‘sacrifices’ which are made. I don’t know if there is any easy answer to that one tbh and it’s way beyond me.

      On the NDAA I’m not really sure what the point is as this act is signed annually by the US President as it’s the authorisation for the military budget for the next financial year as I understand it. Sometimes others clauses are tacked-on and perhaps its one of these which concern you.

      Possibly it is the Dangerous Detention clause, signed by Obama, which allows the military to arrest and imprison indefinitely people captured anywhere in the world which is thought to breach international law because the power is not purely restricted to a battlefield scenario.

      This is a huge extension of power and the ACLU is currently fighting it as I believe. I honestly don’t know enough about the arguments to come to a snap-judgement on it no matter how draconian it appears at first view.

      On Guantanamo you are quite correct it is a real failure of Obama’s. Strangely, the wording of the Danagerous Detention clause makes it more difficult to close Guantanamo – such is the reality of politics especially when it comes to implementing pre-election promises when you actually gain power.

      And in this regard Guantanamo really is a case in point and Obama’s closure pledge has been thwarted because Republicans have voted against providing the cash to build the alternative facility on the US mainland. A lot of prisoners cleared for released are still held because they would face torture if returned home and no other country will have them. So it isn’t all Obama’s fault and indeed was something he inherited on first taking office.

      I’m afraid that I am unable to sensibly tackle the rather wide-ranging statement that Obama’s administration is funding much of the turmoil of the Arab Spring. I don’t have the evidence and in any case feel that in some of the states that a regime change has been or could be in the ineterest of ordinary citizens.

      On what rights he had to get involved in Libya – well he made it clear he was not the leading factor which was Nato with some Gulf States but in reality that meant Britain and France. I think possibly a majority of the UK population wanted more and earlier intervention than actually happened. But what was the alternative to sit and watch the population of a city the size of Benghazi be slaughtered by the Mad Colonel?

      I disagree with just about everything David Cameron stands for but he made the right call there in destroying the attacking forces and that certainly virtually guaranteed the overthrow of Gadaffi – the former friend of Britain or at least of its Establishment.

      Libya is by no means perfect and has still got a wrong way to go but our intervention there was the right thing to do and our collective delay in acting in Syria may condemn that country and its people to utter ruin and mass exterminations.

      I have no illussions about Obama but I have no doubt he is better tahn the alternative and I hope he has learnt a lot from his first term – I truly believes he means well and has been stymied not only with the global economic crisis but constrained with the inbuilt checks & balances of the American political system which has seen the Republicans block his political plans.

      If he manges to complete his Health Care programme in the next four years then he will have been a Great President and hopefully as the Republicans lose their inbuilt voting advantage with ever-changing US demographics then succeeding Democrat Presidents will achieve many of the things that I truly believe Obama aspires to. And Btw I think he’s a lousy public speaker and that’s why I trust in him 🙂 although I fully realise the constraints that he was and is under many of which are not of his making but direct Republican legacies.

  28. Budweiser

    Think I missed out a dot ; http://www.thedebate.org/thedebate/afghanistan.asp .
    ps. Just read that a Chinese co. have discovered oil in northern Afghanistan.

  29. Budweiser

    @ timtim
    The patriot act was Bush, straight after 9/11, forced through, in the middle of the night with less than 5% having even read it.

  30. jacuzzi61

    agree with everything you are saying. I come from only child parents so no aunts,uncles and grandparents too old or too young for both world wars so no immediate family losses to remember but i still remember the “fallen” on the sunday,i agree with the white poppy wearers,the red poppy has now become a symbol of the guilty who support war instead of peace,why are football teams now to have poppies sewn into their kits? If so why cant they choose what colour they want? By the way rich kid is an appologised even though he hasn’t!! Keep up the excellent work and give it to them straight.

  31. timtim

    acknowledged BudW
    ah 911 -the biggest lie in history

    • Budweiser

      @timtim

      Re 911;- I was always a bit suspicious of the official version of 911. The following article is of the 2nd Pearl Harbor type.; http://www.michaeljournal.org/pearl.htm. for Eco there is even a mention of Spartacus!
      However ,I stumbled on the following site purely by chance;- http://www.911missinglinks . The ‘movie’ part at 2 hours or so can be a bit turgid and repetative but imo is worth the effort , to see a totally unexpected perspective. I would be interested in your views [or anyone else’s] on this .Please, surely this couldn’t be true?

  32. JimBhoy

    @ecojon Fabulous piece mate, I hope we have seen our last war and our last casualty on any side… I think I have donated to 4 poppies in the last week but I have never put any thought into what the whole side show means, it’s a charity, I am charitable and proud of any man brave enough to defend another. I hate politics and politicians. I’d rather my son was in the army than in politics. Hopefully neither will happen as I am hoping he will be at Celtic … One can dream.. 🙂

  33. JimBhoy

    @eco The way he played yesterday reminded me of a young Billy McNeil 🙂

  34. John Burns

    Ecojon,
    Again selective memory come into play on Iraq.

    “Whatever the reason given for Iraq intervention it was in reality about oil and regime change which we achieved only to leave behind an unstable murderous vacuum which shows little signs of ending.”

    And what about the “murderous regime” which existed for twenty-five years under Saddam?

    We have removed state-sponsored terrorism in Iraq – of course differing Islamic factions continue to kill each other – they always have and always will, so it seems.

    If the west were supporters of Saddam at times during his ‘reign of terror’, then surely we had a moral obligation and duty to remove him. He had been flouting UN resolution for twelve years whilst continuing the rape, torture and murder of his own people – this would have continued ad infinitum under his two sons – that’s why we had to get rid of him, of course we missed out opportunity when kicked him out of Kuwait. We stuck to the UN mandate then, foolishly as it now transpires.

    Where is the so-called “oil-fruits’ that we supposedly looked to harvest?

    The question that every anti-war bandwagon – jumper can never answer is – What would you have done in Iraq – leave Saddam in place and then allow his sons to inherit?

    Finally, history will see that we done the ‘right thing’ and Iraq will establish itself as a major economic power in the region – recent figures show a 9% growth in GDP – my late father, who was a sergeant in the Royal Artillery, and who served all over the middle-east during the Second World War, often told us of the professionalism of Iraqi soldiers and of the integrity of the Iraqi people; so I will be wearing my poppy with pride at Celtic Park this afternoon – I am on my way – Hail Hail!!!

    • ecojon

      @ John Burns

      Enjoy the game but I must say I’m not sure whether you are getting at me in your post or just stating your position which is obviously fine by me.

      But maybe when you get back from the game if there’s anything that you disagree with what I have written then let me know and I will re-assess my response as I always try and retain an open mind to all contributions.

      Only through debate can a true understanding of opposing positions be reached – maybe not agreement but even the understanding is a positive step 🙂

      • John Burns

        Your right EJ – I am merely stating my honestly held point of view on Iraq – not once, in many discussions when I have asked the ‘so-called’ stop the war supporters, what would you have done about Iraq, have I ever received a coherent answer.

        What I usually get in some mention of the UN – the same UN whom Saddam was humiliating tear after year, the same UN who stood back and oversaw genocide in Rwanda, butchering in Bosnia and but for Blair and Clinton would have been complicit in some 500,000 deaths in Sierra Leone and anywhere up to 2 million ethnically cleansed and killed in Kosovo.

        This of course is the same UN, who even now stand on the sidelines in Syria after initially sending in Kofi Annan, a man who brings an updated meaning to Denis Healey’s comments of “being savaged by a dead sheep”

        • ecojon

          @ John Burns

          Iraq would have been better finished the first time in military terms. But it begs the question as to how the country would have been governed afterwards and whether it should be split.

          But, of course, that raised the question of how the power of Iran would be countered so IMHO Saddam was alowed to slip off the hook. So then we had to do it all over again but hey what does that matter as it is only the life of squaddies that would be on the line. However, we still had never figured out how Iraq could be run without a strongman just the same as its former dictator and I don’t think they’re much closer to that decision even yet.

          On balance I was in favour of the second war but when the nuclear and chemical stuff didn’t turn-up then it became obvious we had been duped again. But I still wonder that if the British Public had been told the truth about oil as the motivator and been told they would end-up living in the dark with no heating or working electrical appliances – would they still have been as anti-war as they were?

          As to the UN – it really is a failed organisation built on the bones of all those it has failed more or less since inception. And also an excuse for many to do nothing.

  35. Pensionerbhoy

    Just been flicking through for any updates on this absorbing debate. It has struck me that someone on here may have an arthritic thumbs down. It just keeps popping up (or should that be down) no matter the point of view. I do not normally bother but for the sake of variety I will.

  36. Richboy a Celtic fan?

    Yet can praise Thatcher, Reagan and Cameron and slate the GB? Suggest that the ROI could invade the North?

    Two chances of these being the thoughts of a Celtic fan, none and heehaw.

    • Mike

      bollocks point IMHO!
      As if all Celtic fans have the same world view! What a daft comment to make.
      And who cares what team he supports anyway – comment on his points, not your suppositions.

      • ecojon

        @ Mike

        He doesn’t make any points he just sloganises and isn’t worth spending a nanosecond on and I don’t care if he does support Celtic or not – he is not the type of person I would wish to have any discourse or connection with. Seems to me he is better ignored and left alone with his warped views.

        • Mike

          @ ecojon

          people who sloganise add nothing to the argument, but they still must be rebutted, otherwise their slogans become the currency of comments.

          We must rebut incorrect and wrong-headed comments wherever they occur or a free society becomes an unthinking one.

          I want to entertain opposite thoughts so that I can evaluate my own thinking and correct it if required, but wrong-thinking must be challenged wherever it occurs.

          Pauls’s blog is a great example in outing those who have wrong-headed thoughts, and don’t know how to correct there wrong-headedness!

  37. Geddy Lee

    War is never popular, and the “Great war ” was no different. The huge anti war movement knew fine well that like most wars, it was been prosecuted for money.

    The ruling classes in the UK made vast fortunes from the war, as they did in the US. The only difference there was that
    the Americans made big companies pay back their war profits to the government. Henry Ford alone was made to hand over an astonishing 27 million pounds. A staggering figure for the times.

    The Press were much more free and enlightened in those days, as their reporting showed.

    Ian Hansens book, “The unknown soldier” chronicles, not only the war, through offical documents and letters from the front, but the huge fight to get a war memorial in the first place.

    The whole concept of “Rememberance Sunday” was initially rejected by first the Military themselves, still furious that they had not been permitted to repatriate the bodies of Officers. That had been the original plan, again thwarted by the brave media.

    Next to object was the Government , it’self, followed by the Protestant Church (yes , you read that right) who saw the idea of the cenotaph as “Idolatry” and “Akin to worshgip of the Catholic crucifix”. Ther biggest objector however was the King himself, oh how he fought it tooth and nail.

    Again, it’s another graphic ilustration of just how ignorant we are of our own history. Hansen’s book lays bare the astonishing cowardice of the church and the government, and the sheer wretchedness of the King, something that went on for years.
    It explains also how both the Protestant Church, and the Royal family lost widespread respect from the British people as a whole, outside the West of Scotland.

    Anyone with an interest in the war NEEDS to read Hanson’s novel. It wil shock, anger and sadden, but it’s better than the current astonishing ignorance that surrounds the whole Poppy/war debate north of the border.

    It would ceartainly get certain groups of Scots off their sanctamoniuos high horses, when it comes to slavish worship of the Military and the Royal Family.

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