It is ironic in the extreme that an event that is supposed to commemorate the memory of the many that died to end conflict has itself been such a major source of it. It is an episode in Scottish social history that shames Scotland and the media who used it to sell papers, increase phone in figures, maximise revenue and attack Celtic.
Celtic too have to take some criticism for not foreseeing how divisive the PoppyScotland approach to the SPL would be, particularly to our Irish support who, for their own good reasons, did not want to remember, most certainly did not want to have to remember and felt the form of remembrance in the wearing of symbolic poppy on the Celtic jersey was a denial of the freedom of choice that those who died fought to protect as well as trampling on the rights they have been struggling for since the sixties. They were not alone in some of their feelings although they too must recognise that not all Celtic supporters have had the same family history to shape their views. Respect all round.
PoppyScotland too should take pause to reflect if they had been far seeing enough and given enough thought to what they were asking of Celtic, why they asked it and if the charity they represent was best served by this idea. Perhaps they already have.
As for the Scottish media their response to the sounds of protest that came from some of the Celtic support was probably their most shameful hour (until the last three weeks) and hopefully in the third year after the disrespectful frenzy that filled the newspapers and air waves, they will mute or better still drop their criticism entirely and appreciate that not everyone wants to remember in the same way and most do not want the form of remembrance forced on them through guilt or conformity. A memory coerced is not a memory worth having.
For the whole Celtic support, whilst there is another year of the circus to endure, perhaps the knowledge it is the last and perhaps also from a degree of poppy fatigue, we will see this year’s Remembrance Sunday on 14th September at St Mirren pass quietly and respectfully not just in memory of the dead but more importantly out of respect for what they died for – a peaceful world.
The first Poppy Circus of 2008 inspired the following in its aftermath, let’s hope the message it contains inspires more fitting ways to remember and respect in the future those who died in the past.
Paying Respect – Speaking for The Dead
From the land of beyond
I watch and shake my head
At those fighting to pay respect to my sacrifice
In the way that they think respect should be paid to the dead.
I’m an unknown soldier killed in a trench somewhere
Bled to death as I watched rats drink from my ebbing earth life.
I died in the hope that all fighting would stop
NO MORE WAR.
But war takes many forms
It is not all bullets and shells
It’s not always fought in trenches either
Its most common battlefield is in the heart and minds of men.
In the last few days I have witnessed a battlefield,
I have watched the team I support dragged through the mud
By the mistaken, who have turned what was intended as a show of respect
Into yet another battlefield.
You do not respect me when you wear a poppy
You do not respect me when you have a minute’s silence
You do not respect me when you have a minute’s applause
You do not respect me when you walk out
You especially do not respect me when you try to divide a community
Then a country
With spurious arguments of what constitutes respect
And then broadcast those views to the nation
In radio and newspapers
In a manner and tone that encourages division
Division that becomes a cause of
If you think that all these are respect
You are among the mistaken.
The Poppy, the minute’s silence, the minute’s applause
These are all SYMBOLS
They have become empty symbols
Ditch them in the trench in which I died.
If you want to truly respect me
Remember why I died
LEST YOU FORGET
It was so that there would be
NO MORE WAR
And let NO MORE WAR break out
In the only battlefield that counts
In each heart and in each mind
If a symbol is needed at all
Find a symbol that unites
Use a symbol for eternity
(For eternity is where I am)
Or even the white poppy for peace
And do not war over which one!
But the best way to remember my sacrifice
Is not through symbols
It’s to cultivate peace in your heart
Your mind and your soul
So that no matter the symbol
No matter how much anyone may turn it to their particular cause
You always and truly respect the sacrifice I made.
So that there will be
NO MORE WAR