Robert Hampton

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12th November 2014


I’ve had a changing attitude to the Poppy Appeal. Through my childhood and early teens I always dutifully wore one. I distinctly remember floods of tears one year when I lost mine in the playground at primary school.

As I entered my twenties and increasingly became a bleeding-heart liberal, I stopped wearing one. My opinion was probably soured by seeing Tony Blair laying a wreath at the Cenotaph, at the same time he was happily starting wars in the Middle East, on dubious pretexts, with seemingly little regard for the men and women he was putting in harm’s way.

I’m also concerned at what Jon Snow calls “poppy fascism” – the increasingly-prevalent attitude that anyone who isn’t wearing a poppy somehow hates their country and the armed forces. If that’s true, then approximately 75% of the commuters on my train to work fall into that category.

Woe betide you if you’re in the public eye and choose not to wear one. ITV presenter Charlene White received death threats when she chose not to wear one. Perhaps a similar fear explains why Chris Kamara turned up on Sky Sports the other day, wearing two poppies.

After all that, I’ve come back around to wearing one again. To my mind, the soldiers fighting on the front lines should be separated out from the politicians back home giving the orders. To face the horrors of war full on is no small task – I freely admit I would hide under my bed if I was asked to fight.

There are many ways to serve your country, and not all of them involve picking up a gun and heading out into enemy territory. But for the people who do put their lives on the line, I’m happy to put a few quid in the tin and show a bit of support in return.

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One Response
  1. Comment by Jamie
    13th November 2014 at 12:33 pm

    It’s the giving to charity that’s the important bit. The poppy itself was originally just a symbol to say “I’ve donated, please don’t ask me again”, based on local hospital “flag days” (where you’d give money to nurses sent out in the streets and they’d give you a miniature flag to wear to show you’d donated so no more nurses would ask you to donate) in the years before the NHS made begging for donations for domestic healthcare less necessary.