Back to top

"Wear a white poppy," says Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah wearing a white poppy

"Wear a white poppy," says Benjamin Zephaniah

Leading poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah has said that we should remember all victims of war and work harder for peace.

"I love wearing my white poppy," he explains, at the beginning of a two-minute video published today by the Peace Pledge Union.

He adds, "I could wear a red one, but I don't want just to remember British people who have died in war: I want to remember all people. In fact, I want to remember all people and all animals who have died in wars anywhere in the world."

White poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war, both civilian and military, of all nationalities. They also stand for a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism. They have been worn since 1933 and are distributed by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a UK-based pacifist network.

In contrast, the Royal British Legion, who produce red poppies, insist that they represent remembrance only for UK and allied armed forces personnel.

"Peace is not just the absence of war," says Benjamin Zephaniah in today's video message. "Peace is something that we should really be working towards."

He adds, "We have to work for a world where there is no war. We can do it. If we can put people on the Moon, if we can invent computers, if we can do all of these great wonderful things that we claim to do all the time, then why can't we undo war, and do peace?"

The PPU maintains that remembering victims of wars should naturally lead us to work to prevent war in the present and the future.

The PPU has warmly welcomed Benjamin's message, and his insistence that working for peace is possible and realistic.

White poppies are worn by tens of thousands of people around the UK and beyond, sold by over 200 shops, cafes and other outlets around the UK, and can also be ordered online through the PPU website.

Remembrance Sunday will see white poppy wreaths laid at ceremonies around the UK. In some cases, such as at Leicester University, they will feature prominently in official ceremonies, while in other cases local people have organised alternative ceremonies based around white poppies and the values they represent.

The National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony will take place in Tavistock Square, London at 12.00 noon on Sunday 13 November - as well  as being live-streamed to viewers elsewhere in the UK and other parts of the world.

The ceremony will involve messages from Russian and Ukrainian peace campaigners as well as speakers including comedian and commentator Kate Smurthwaite, who recently spoke up for white poppies on the Jeremy Vine show on Channel 5.

Concluding his video message today, Benjamin Zephaniah said, "Wear a white poppy. You know it makes absolute sense."


To buy white poppies, you can view a map of white poppy outlets or order them online directly from the Peace Pledge Union.