Remember

white poppies for peace

White poppies from the Peace Pledge Union (little seen here, but something I grew up with).

Red poppies, here in Canada, from the Royal Canadian Legion. Elsewhere, from your local veterans’ association.

Wear one. Wear one of each, wear both of them together. Either way, respect and remember.

Stop and think, quietly and concentratedly, at 11:00 today. Or 11:00 on the nearest Sunday; so if you forgot yesterday, you can remember to remember today; or why not remember more than once? This isn’t an occasion to nit-pick as to whether the moment of the Armistice’s signing is “the” moment: what’s important is remembering.

One minute, traditionally, for the 20 million dead of World War I; a second minute for those they left behind. Extend that to those who died in all conflicts, to the veterans who survived and returned, and to their loved ones. The war dead of the last century alone surely deserve at least two minutes of your time, why not make it more? For your own personal war dead, if you have any. For those of your family, over generations. For loved ones of friends, colleagues, neighbours, local community. And in sympathy with other people: anyone, anywhere, any time. This is not about “God And Country” gung-ho war-mongering and macho posturing: it’s about suffering and solidarity; humanist, humane, and human.

Three other perspectives.

1. “This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time” (The Guardian, 2013-11-11)

2. “Crowds turn out to mourn ‘unknown soldier’ Percival after appeal” (The Guardian, 2013-11-11)

3. Remember, also, animals in war: the RSPCA’s campaigns, and the BC SPCA; the famous fictional version of Michael Morpurgo’s Warhorse (and the play and animated movie); and the Dickin Medal. Not to forget other animal casualties of war, as highlighted recently in a care2 campaign.

maria dickin

More about the Dickin Medal (for the record: the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a British veterinary charity) also awards a civilian equivalent, the PDSA Gold Medal):

The Dickin Medal is a large, bronze medallion bearing the words “For Gallantry” and “We Also Serve” all within a laurel wreath. The ribbon is striped green, dark brown and pale blue representing water, earth and air to symbolise the naval, land and air forces.

During the Second World War (1939-45), PDSA’s founder Maria Dickin CBE was aware of incredible bravery displayed by animals on active service and the Home Front. Inspired by the animals’ devotion to man and duty, she introduced a special medal specifically for animals in war.

The PDSA Dickin Medal, recognised as the animals’ Victoria Cross, is awarded to animals displaying conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving or associated with any branch of the Armed Forces or Civil Defence Units. The PDSA Dickin Medal is the highest award any animal can receive whilst serving in military conflict.

The Medal, which can only be considered on receipt of an official commendation, has been awarded 64 times since 1943. The recipients comprised 32 pigeons, 28 dogs, three horses and one cat.

Most recently:

Theo – Springer Spaniel
Royal Army Veterinary Corps, Arms and Explosives Search dog
Date of Award: awarded posthumously on 25 October 2012
For outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty while deployed with 104 Military Working Dog (MWD) Squadron during conflict in Afghanistan September 2010 to March 2011.

Here’s Theo:

theo

And some previous Dickin Medal recipients:

dickin medal dickin medal dickin medal dickin medaldickin medal

Images above: Sky News

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