To poppy or not to poppy

It’s red poppy time again, but I don’t want to wear one.

While I am totally supportive of remembrance of those who lost their lives fighting for New Zealand, I find the tone and messaging of almost everything surrounding ANZAC day to be at odds with itself.

On one hand there’s been a modern shift to recognise ‘the horror of war’ and say ‘never again’ as part of the commemorations. But on the other hand, most (if not all all) ANZAC remembrance is filled with military regalia and is facilitated by our armed forces who are currently at war in the Middle East.

‘Never again’ isn’t working.

For me, I believe the best way to honour both my personal stance against war and my desire to remember and respect soldiers who died fighting for my freedom, is to wear a white poppy, a purple poppy or a sprig of rosemary.

If you’re uncertain about where you stand on ANZAC day, these might be options for you too:

White Poppies are sold in New Zealand by White Poppies for Peace:

The white poppy is an international symbol of remembrance for all the casualties of war – civilians and armed forces personnel – and of peace. Some people see it as an alternative to the red poppy, others see it as complementary; some choose to wear both poppies, some one or the other, and some no poppy at all.

In Wellington, you can often get white poppies from an honesty box at St Andrew’s on The Terrace during the lead up to ANZAC Day.

The Purple Poppy is a remembrance of the animals who died serving in, or by being caught in, war.

It may seem flippant, but dogs, horses, donkeys and carrier pigeons regularly saved our asses. And it’s not just animals in service who died. As many as 750,000 pets were killed in the first week of WWII in England, after the National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee drafted a notice called Advice to Animal Owners:

The pamphlet said: “If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency.” It concluded: “If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed.”

Rosemary has long been associated with remembrance, and is sometimes used in funerals where people place sprigs of rosemary on the casket.

Rosemary also grows wild around the Gallipoli peninsula and is sometimes worn by Australians (and I’m sure others) on both ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.

If, like me, ANZAC commemorations leave you feeling confused and torn, and you’re sick of being told there’s only one right way to participate, hopefully this is helpful to you.


3 thoughts on “To poppy or not to poppy

  1. on Anzac Day

    Time to wear the Black Poppy again,
    In memory of comrades and trade unionists,
    Who fought for and sacrificed,
    To preserve their way of life.
    For the 40 hour week,
    A single livable family wage,
    Fascism would have denied them this.
    So has capitalism. They spin in their grave.
    They fought in fields of mud,
    And over rocks of uneven terrain,
    They fought and died for trade unionisim,
    They fought, but died in vain.
    Lest we forget,
    That slogan’s now so rotten
    And should be changed, to,
    We have already forgotten.

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