Tales From the City- Hallo Pops! We won’t forget the fallen and those in harm’s way.

The Man made from 1000 Poppies

It’s November, and the little red poppies are colouring winter lapels. It’s a bit of bright red cheer in the gloom of approaching winter. I came across Pops just by chance on a walk about. Pops was made by a wife of one of the members of the Royal British Legion. She used 1,000 poppies to make him. Sadly, she has since passed, but Pops proudly sits on his XT500 Motor Bike, originally built some 31 years ago. His roaring bike rebuilt by Neil, who whilst selling poppies, told me that the bike came back home in bags, all the motor parts  in bits and pieces. All of this hard work was done with such care and compassion for the Poppy Appeal.

The Poppy Roars

I’ve always worn a red poppy, knowing it was for Remembrance Day,  but I never gave it much serious thought as a child. It was something we just did.  But, the Royal British Legion’s mission statement, bears mentioning, it reads:

Our Mission is to provide welfare, comradeship, representation, and remembrance for the Armed Forces Community.

It’s a simple statement, but when you start to dig behind its true meaning, it is simply overwhelming. War is overwhelming.

Flanders Field, Original Photo and Photographers unknown. Photo rendering SHS

It’s a horrible thing war. I can’t imagine anything worse. Those men and women who went into service, gave so much, from the men shivering and trembling in the wet muddy trenches, to the women at home, holding down the home front, keeping things ticking over, whilst wondering if their son or their beloved would ever return. The brave letters sent from the front belied the misery the men suffered in their battle to end injustice and protect their loved ones and our country. No one comes home from war untouched. No one escapes its cruel hand, be it those who go into action, or those left behind.

Poppy Appeal

The Royal British Legion is a charity that supports those that gave so much for us, gave such things that we can never repay their service to our country, from their sleepless nights with nightmares that never end, missing limbs, and  missing lives. The totality of war is something that can never be fully calculated or even repaid.

It was  the First World War, which was so hoped to be the ‘war that ends all wars’ that the little poppy became a symbol of hope and remembrance.  In the devastation of Flanders Fields, left devoid of life, trees, buildings, roads, and lives that were simply wiped away, the little poppy bloomed through the mud and misery.

A Canadian Doctor John McCrae came across the fields in full bloom, and the experience so moved him that he wrote in his notebook his famous poem, In Flanders Fields and brought to millions the horrors of the war.

English: John McCrae Français : John McCrae

English: John McCrae Français : John McCrae (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1918, although the war was over, the scars were still fresh and raw, an American War Secretary, Moira Michael wrote her poem, We Shall Keep The Faith, in which she vowed to wear a red poppy to remember the dead. She began the practice of selling red poppies for remembrance.

It was in 1922  when Major George Howson, a young infantry officer, formed the Disabled Society. He suggested to the Royal British Legion that their Society make the red little poppies which we wear today. The poppies were so designed that they could be put together by workers with disabilities, and so England’s Poppy Factory in Richmond, was born in  1922.

We have not escaped the horrors of war, we have not yet achieved that dream of peace and until we do, there will always be men and women in need of a loving hand, a kind word, an offer of help to return from the madness of war to daily life, and this little poppy, raising money for those so in need, will with its cheerful face and promise of hope, aids those so desperately in need.  It is with sincere gratitude that I thank the men and women who gave their lives for our safety and to those in harm’s way today, I wish your safe return home and send you wishes from a nation that is proud of your efforts and ever grateful.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

      Between the crosses, row on row,

   That mark our place; and in the sky

   The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

   Loved and were loved, and now we lie

         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

   The torch; be yours to hold it high.

   If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

         In Flanders fields.

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/poppy-appeal

About susan sheldon

I am an explorer. It's taken me awhile to realise this. But I love capturing bits of our wonderful world with my camera, travelling through time and history, always returning to write, or paint what I've discovered. I use my Leica and my iPhone to capture images, and with those images I try to hold on to a feeling, a moment in our busy lives. Sometimes those moments bring me into the past, others into the studio to paint, or back to the old typewriter to try to use words to capture what the camera has done for me already. One of my goals in my blog is to have a space to take a breath away from our frantic world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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2 Responses to Tales From the City- Hallo Pops! We won’t forget the fallen and those in harm’s way.

  1. Chris says:

    i like the poem a lot, and the pictures are interesting… i couldn’t imagine riding like that though… 🙂

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