After wrestling passed hundreds of hasty London commuters on the Circle line from King’s Cross to Tower Hill, the unexpected hush and the cool autumn breeze surrounding the Tower of London after dark created a surreal atmosphere.
With the Shard piercing the black sky in the background, the eight-hundred and eighty-eight thousand, two hundred and forty-six floodlit ceramic poppies seeping from the walls of the Tower of London seemed less an art-installation grounded in the medieval moat, but a blood-red blanket silencing the crowd of camera screen and iPhone flashes.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a signed Armistice signalled the end of the Great War.
While the Tower of London Poppies represent all those who gave their lives for that First World War, the two minute silence which will reverb around the UK and the Commonwealth today at 11am offers one minute for all soldiers who have given their lives in service, and one minute also for the living.
The poppy is contested symbol. So long has it played a part in our remembrance, that Remembrance Day has even come to be called Poppy Day by some.
Yet each year people speak out against it’s use (see Charlene White & Harry Leslie Smith‘s articles on why they refuse to wear a poppy), while others condemn that refusal (see Harry Puttick‘s argument for the continued use of the poppy).
Part of the argument against the use of the poppy seems to take the political stance that Remembrance Day should not be used as justification for continued and future conflict, and for rallying a country in national pride to support that conflict.
Essentially however, the poppy represents a war in which few had a real choice in their involvement, and yet thousands died. As a result, the future of the UK, if not the world, changed dramatically. Most importantly, so did the future of the families of those thousands.
The wonderful thing about the Tower of London Poppies display is that The Poppy Appeal has pledged to share the money raised via donations and ceramic poppy sales between six charities in total.
One of these is Combat Stress, a charity I personally support for its work in attending to the psychological wounds of combat in veterans within the UK. It is an area that has historically been severely overlooked and that is still slow in becoming recognised as crucial to supporting those ex-servicemen who need mental health support.
Along with The British Legion and Combat Stress, money raised through the Tower of London Poppies will be shared with the following four charities:
Life is in a constant state of flux, for some the point of fluctuation occurs with a more drastic twist of fate.
Lots of love,