Thought for the day, BBC Radio Bristol, 30th October 2008

I've come into the studio today wearing both a Red Poppy and a White or peace - Poppy.

The Red Poppy is indelibly associated with Remembrance Sunday. The money raised is used to provide support for ex-servicemen, and the poppy factory itself gives employment to disabled veterans.

The White Poppy is less well known, although it has actually been around since 1933.

The original White Poppies were made and distributed by members of the Cooperative Women's Guild who wanted to symbolise the idea that the First World War had been, as many hoped at the time, the war to end all wars. The Guild soon came to work with the Peace Pledge Union, who today still use the money raised to promote non-violent ways of resolving conflicts, mainly through educational and awareness raising publications.

I'm by no means unusual in wearing both types of poppy. In fact, I think that most people who wear the white one also wear the red one. The women who started the white poppy were certainly not disrespectful to those who died or suffered in the Great War, many of whom had been their husbands, sons or brothers. I can see no contradiction between supporting veterans of war and working to prevent future conflicts.

And yet I must admit that the White Poppy does seem to promote some controversy. Perhaps the Peace Pledge Union could do more to promote the two symbols as complementing each other rather than as rivals. It is difficult to buy the White Poppy - you may need to try your local Quaker Meeting House. Personally I would like to see the two sold side-by-side, one a symbol of remembering the past and the other of a wish to build a better future.

Eddy Knasel




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