Posted on October 17, 2019
Red poppy to commemorate civilian victims for first time
‘Up until last year, [the Royal British Legion] were insisting that remembrance should involve only UK and allied armed forces personnel,’ says pacifist group
Red poppies will commemorate all civilians who lost their lives in war from this year on, the Royal British Legion (RBL) has said.
The artificial flowers will also be worn to remember the victims of terror attacks.
The decision to alter the wildflower’s symbolism has emerged less than a month before Remembrance Day.
“Since it was founded in 1921, the Royal British Legion has always acknowledged the human cost of conflict and looked towards a peaceful future,” said Robert Lee, the RBL’s assistant director of remembrance.
“Our core positioning hasn’t changed but we do want to make [that] more explicit in our language, because Remembrance is inclusive of all modern Britain and its important communities know their views and values are reflected in our activity.”
Poppies are traditionally worn to remember soldiers who died in combat.
The flowers grew on the battlefields during World War One, particularly in Flanders. The image was later immortalised in poems such as “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae and eventually provided inspiration for the RBL’s annual poppy appeal campaign.
“As a charity we have a particular responsibility to the Armed Forces community under our charitable remit and the deaths of personnel who have served with the British Armed Forces will always be at the heart of Remembrance for the Legion,” Mr Lee said. “But Remembrance has a wider meaning and role, and this does include all civilians affected by conflict and terrorism.
“Remembrance paves the way for reconciliation, but it is up to each generation to find reconciliation for themselves, and the Legion upholds its place bringing people and communities together to have these important conversations.”
The charity made the decision to alter the symbol’s meaning after carrying out a review of its position.