By Michael Heggie
Buy your poppy and wear it with pride – that was the call from the Royal British Legion on Remembrance Day.
Those who gave their lives for their country will be remembered at services all over Scotland this week. This year’s event marks the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
The Royal British Legion’s theme this year, “Serving those who serve”, emphasises the need to help those who are serving today, as well as ex-servicemen and women and their dependants.
Neil Griffiths, spokesperson for the Royal British Legion Scotland, said: “Ninety years after the end of World War One and with so many still serving in conflicts today, we must recognise the sacrifices that have been made.
“It is wrong to think that the legion is out of date.
“From World War One and the World War Two through to current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so many have given so much for their country and the need for the legion’s help grows year by year.
“We must remember that it’s not just about donating money; it’s about honouring the servicemen and women who gave their lives so we could live in a free country.”
A growing number of people have chosen to ignore this year’s campaign.
Anti-war campaigners have chosen to wear an alternative to the red poppy. They will wear a white poppy which is symbolic of all the victims of war as well as veterans.
The white poppy project is run by the Peace Pledge Union which has been campaigning for the end to all war since its formation in 1934.
A press release on the Peace Pledge Union’s official website said: “The laying of a white wreath along with the traditional red would be a gesture to remember everybody who has died as a result of war. The white poppy symbolises remembrance of the victims of all wars, the dead, the living and refugees as well as the service personnel on all sides.”
Newsreader John Snow upset The Royal British Legion in 2006 due to the absence of a Remembrance Day emblem on his lapel while reading the news. This led to viewer complaints to Channel 4 News and Snow’s blog on the programme’s website. Snow argued that he has the right not to wear items that could be seen as making statements.
On his blog, Snow said: “I am begged to wear an Aids ribbon, a breast cancer ribbon, a Marie Curie flower … You name it, from the Red Cross to the RNIB, they send me stuff to wear to raise awareness, and I don’t. And in those terms, and those terms alone, I do not and will not wear a poppy … Additionally there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there – ‘he damned well must wear a poppy!’.”
The Royal British Legion was out in force on Princes Street this weekend raising money for the cause. Wreaths will be laid at war memorials at different times and places and the traditional two minutes silence observed across the country.
The 2007 poppy appeal raised altogether £27.5 million and it is expected that a similar figure will be met for this year’s poppy appeal.