It’s that time of year when most of us in the UK will be wearing red poppies as an act of remembrance. This week we learned that FIFA have decided that wearing a poppy is a political act. Their view that because of this, the English and Scottish football teams (both UK teams) should be banned from wearing poppies in a match at Wembley (a UK Venue), seems pretty daft to most people. However there just might be a silver lining as at least this news is highlighting the poppy appeal once again. It may even increase the number of people buying poppies and as a result actually help the veterans, widows and orphans who really need it.
The current issue might also make us all think more about why we remember, how we do it and what results as a consequence. Remembering is a God given characteristic in all humans and as in all things we can misuse it or use it in a positive way to God’s glory and our own ultimate wellbeing.
Remembering is a God given characteristic
As a Christian who served in the armed forces and who works with a Christian organisation that encourages men and women in the armed forces all over the world to be salt and light where God has put them, I am acutely aware that not all military personnel do good things and often serve governments and regimes that do some awful things. This has also applied to the UK at some points in our own history. For me this should be part of our remembrance, and it should cause us to always question the reasons our government commit our armed forces to fight. It must always be a last resort. We should always ask 'is this necessary?'. Remembrance should not be about selfish national pride or ego.
It is not about politics or nationalistic pride
Remembrance is also about people - with all the messiness that involves. The sacrifices made by many good men and women in the armed forces and civilian population killed in wars should, of course, be acknowledged. For many in our country today such remembrance plays a part in their personal grieving process, a grieving process that is all too real. We should not forget this and its part of why wearing a poppy is still very relevant in a practical way. It should not mean we support war or the too easy use of armed forces. But as we see the results of war and what it does to people it should make us all the stronger in trying to ensure it should never happen again and if it does, only as a last resort when every other option fails.
FIFA do not understand the true meaning of what wearing a poppy in remembrance means. It is not about politics or nationalistic pride, it is about remembering with gratitude loved ones and those left behind. And at its best, it should inspire us to do all we can to ensure that wars do not happen again.
Colonel (retired) Jos McCabe is the Chief Executive at Military Ministries International.