This blog was written two years ago. Sadly, in light of recent events involving allegations made that some of our major supermarkets and motorway service station operators have banned veterans from selling poppy’s on their premises, it is more relevant now than it was when I wrote it. The fact that I have to even think that let alone write it is a shameful reflection of what is being allowed to go on in this once great country.
I am, it is fair to say, something of a patriot. Indeed, I am as proud an Englishman as it is possible to be and certainly follow that old mantra, English first, British second and European never.
To some of course, this will immediately label me as some kind of racist xenophobe but to be blunt, I don’t care. I’m too old, too set in my ways and have been through far too many mills to give a shit about what anyone else might think of me and as such, have neither the inclination, desire nor as far as I’m concerned, need to justify myself to anyone else. Take me as I am, or don’t take me at all. Simple as that.
I write the above for one very simple reason. You see as I wrote in my last blog, I have passed the point where I’m going to pull my punches and if something gets me fired up, then I’m going after it with all guns blazing and write what I actually think. This is one of those times.
In little under a month, it will be Remembrance Sunday and like the vast majority of the nation, I’ll be taking the time to pay my respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In actual fact, as a veteran of the Falklands War I will once again be taking part in the parade past the Cenotaph in London as part of the South Atlantic medal contingent and am proud as punch to be doing so.
Now the build up to November 11th is always a poignant time for the British as there can barely be a family in the country who have not been touched either directly or indirectly by war either past or present. However it is especially so for those of us who have been lucky enough to serve in the military because to everyone who has done time in uniform the fallen and the injured were, are and always will be our comrades. There but for the grace of god and all that.
That’s also why the poppy has such a special significance for us. For the mere sight of a person wearing one indicates their support not only those who have served and given, but for those who continue to serve. Just as importantly of course, buying a poppy puts money into the amazing charities that support those suffering as a result of injury. Be it physical or mental.
Equally, it is the reason why we get so angry when we see stories about poppy sellers being harassed in the street or of groups planning to burn poppies as some kind of protest. For the poppy isn’t a flag or any kind of political or religious symbol and it most certainly is not any kind of celebration of war, it is a symbol of gratitude. Indeed, if you are anti-war (as most right-thinking people are) then the white poppy is an excellent way of signifying that.
But whilst I readily accept that anyone has the right not to wear a poppy if they so wish -the notion of free speech being at the very heart of our democracy which so many fought and gave to defend- what I do not and will not accept is the defacing or abuse of something which signifies so much. Because to do so is at best disrespectful, at worst incitement. It’s certainly provocative.
The irony is of course, that the scum who do such things can only do so thanks to the freedom those who made the ultimate sacrifice have provided for them. Yet of course they are too stupid to understand that. Instead, they simply take the piss and hide behind the law and the freedom which they seemingly so despise And worst of all, we allow them to do it. In some cases, they are even protected by the police whilst committing this most cowardly of acts because in this free country of ours, they have the ‘right’ to protest.
Well fuck that. What about the rights of the old boys who want to sell poppies as a way of paying homage to their former colleagues but who are spat at or abused when they try to do so? Why are they not being afforded the same kind of protection as they seek to go about their lawful business as the bastards who support those who seek to harm us are seemingly handed on a daily basis?
More importantly, what about the rights of the lads whose bodies still lie strewn and unburied across the Somme or Ypres? Or the poor souls who never made it off the beaches of Normandy? What about those who lie at the bottom of the South Atlantic or who lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan? They aren’t just names on a memorial, they are heroes. And this country owes them a damn sight more than simply standing by and watching as the vermin who we have somehow allowed to infest our society disrespect their memory.
For that is what they are doing, disrespecting. Yet at the same time they have the gall to demand that ‘we’ respect their opinions, their beliefs, their way of life whilst showing none toward ours in return. The hypocrisy is staggering and if it wasn’t so tragic, it would laughable. But not only must it stop, it must be stopped fast.
Now I absolutely acknowledge that what we are talking about is a tiny minority of a minority but I seem to remember another minority stepping out of line not so long ago and the law of the land going all out to stop them and exercise control over pretty much everything they did. Something it succeeded with great efficiency and stunningly quickly. Yes, I know it might be trite to bring football into this but as a precedent, the war waged against hooliganism isn’t actually a bad one. So in the same way as laws were rushed through to seize passports from suspected offenders and impose banning orders on those convicted of football related offences, given that this problem seems to be increasing each year why haven’t laws been rushed through to afford the poppy -and for that matter, our flag- the status of a national sacred symbol with the result that if you desecrate it, you can expect the full force of the law to come down hard upon you?
I for one would wholeheartedly support such a law and with the poppy such a source of pride and importance to so many and the flag now more a symbol of unity than hate thanks to it’s long overdue rescue from the right-wing, I can’t imagine many people would be against it. So why not?
After all, we can’t make people wear the poppy and nor should we even try. We can’t even make people respect it. But we should certainly not sit back and let anyone disrespect what it means. For to do so dishonours the memory of those who made this great nation what it is.
However, until such time as those who are supposed to reflect the opinions of the majority see sense, let me put on record one simple fact. Burn a poppy or abuse a veteran trying to sell them in my presence, you’re fucked.
That’s a fact.
The Crew continues it’s quite astonishing run at #1 on the free sports book download charts and is now well into it’s second year at the top! It’s also been receiving some great reviews which is always heartening (and if you haven’t left one, why not?).
If you use iTunes to download books, you might be interested to know that with the release of Wings of a Sparrow approaching, we’ve slashed the prices of all my books with most, including The Art of Fart now just 99p! The Crew and Everywhere We Go are still free so just click on the following link to download all or any! iTunes
Hopefully Amazon will follow suit fairly quickly as they operate a price matching policy however, you can let them know about the lower price by clicking on the relevant link on the page of the relevant book.
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