On Thursday 30 October, I went with John, Rory and Ewan to see the ceramic poppies surrounding the Tower of London this week.



As we approached Tower Bridge I was astonished by the crowds. It is difficult to describe the mood of the crowd. It was not, I think, sombre – it was a sunny day; people were on holiday.

Quiet, thoughtful, purposeful perhaps is the nearest I can come to – people had come specifically to see this sight.

It was interesting to look at. The backdrop of the tower, the huge stain at its foot of the ceramic poppies, the amazing juxtaposition of ancient buildings and very modern city, the River Thames, and the quietly moving crowd was quite spectacular and also surprising.

In one sense of course, a man made spectacle, however impressive (which this certainly was) can never overshadow a natural one. Real poppies would move in the light air. Their delicate beauty would take your breath away. Their fragility and transitory existence would be moving, and there would be the magic knowledge that they had flowered on this very day – this only day – when you by chance perhaps were passing through. Their blood colour and their association with sleep and death would be poignant.

This spectacle, while it celebrated the sacrifice and fragility of life, was about remembrance and faith, and physical effort. Every one of these ceramic poppies – there will be more than 800,000 by ll November, had been hand made by someone; had been planted by someone; had been purchased by someone in support of present day troops. As far as the eye could see, people stood looking at the scene quietly – they had each decided to travel to this place and witness this testimony. The soldiers whom the poppies represented – in their hundreds of thousands – had been laid waste, their blood spilt, their expectations cut off – but we had not forgotten them.

This was one of those days I was proud to be British, proud to be in our beautiful capital city, and happy to share the experience with a vast and diverse crowd. And to remember that over 450 of our sons have died in Afghanistan, and many more been cruelly injured.   We are still making these sacrifices.

Wear the poppy with pride and humility. We shouldn’t stop remembering. Remembering doesn’t mean we glorify war. We should remember the loss and the sacrifice – and the waste – forever.

(The photo is courtesy of John Armstrong.)



About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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