Last year in the run up to Remembrance Sunday, I was looking for a poppy.
There are boxes of paper poppies on every shop counter. There are people selling them when you get off the train. You can pick one up as you wait for a Doctor’s appointment. This is good. I like that poppies are readily available and that they are worn by many; but there are a couple of things I don’t like about the paper poppies.
The first thing I don’t like (and I apologise if this offends those to whom it doesn’t apply), is that there are some people who wear these poppies without really thinking about what they mean. They wear them simply because it is expected, because it is insisted upon in their job, because they had a pang of guilt when a veteran asked them to buy one or because people might think less of them if they didn’t.
There are a great many people who treat their paper poppies with all the respect that they afford the brave people they represent…but there are many who do not.
During my teens I was an Air Cadet. Once upon a time, I had a short lived dream of being a pilot! On November 11th, we would shine our shoes, starch our uniforms and line the streets of Preston. The brave ones would parade past and we would salute them: all the frivolity of our youth cast aside for that moment when we would try with all our might to show respect and an understanding of the gravity of the situation.
Eyes front. We could only see out of the corners of our eyes and so could they, but I remember seeing huge emotion in those faces. Emotion, dignity and gratitude, that the next generation acknowledged, remembered and appreciated their sacrifice. I was overwhelmed with pride and fought back tears. I truly felt that I was paying my respects.
As a group of teens we were more subdued afterwards than before. As I made my way home, I dodged the paper poppies on the ground. Soggy from puddles and peoples shoes, they reminded me of the fallen and suddenly it seemed a horrid sight. I saw an old couple tutting and picking them up. The lady put them in the bin, there was nowhere else for them.
I don’t like that the paper poppy, as iconic as it is, is so disposable. I wanted something permanent, something proper.
I found Cath’s project on Ebay. She had hand crocheted 1000s of poppies and was selling them in aid of The Royal British Legion and Help For Heroes. I bought one straight away, so did alot of people. In fact Cath had to send out plea after plea for help from crochet enthusiasts everywhere. The offers of help came and so did wool donated by K2Tog in Newcastle under Lyme. before she knew it, Cath had created a crochet poppy monster!!
I’m glad that there are people, quite alot of people actually, who happily give up their time, expertise and stock(!) to say thank you.
So I want to say thank you.
Thank you Cath for my poppy. It’s still beautiful one year on and will be with me for as long as the yarn survives! I will still donate each year of course, but my little scarlet flower means so much to me.
And thank you, thank you so much, to all the brave men and women who have, will and are, putting themselves in harms way so that I can experience even the simplest of freedoms.
If you would like to help Cath or buy one of her beautiful poppies Click here for more information.