by Stephen Andrews
Recently you may have seen people in supermarkets or on the street collecting money for the Poppy Appeal. Make a donation and you get a beautiful paper or ornate poppy badge in return to pin to your lapel.
If you’re from Japan, or another country, you may be wondering what the Poppy Appeal is and how it came about.
The Poppy Appeal takes place in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day.
This is a memorial day observed since the end of the First World in 1919 to honour armed forces members who have died in the line of duty.
It’s held not only in the UK but also in British Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, Belize, Bermuda and Barbados. These are all countries whose soldiers fought for Britain.
The people you see selling the poppies are all current or ex-members of the British Army, Navy and Royal Air Force on behalf of an organisation called the Royal British Legion, a charity formed to raise money for ex-servicemen and their families way back in 1921.
This year, Remembrance Day will be held on Saturday, November 11th and there are ceremonies in most large UK cities. In London, a commemorative wreath is laid, usually by a member of the Royal Family, at a monument called the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Why a poppy?
During WW1, all over Western Europe, the countryside was bombed and fought over. Landscapes that had been covered with trees, grass and lush farmland turned to mud, leaving behind complete devastation, where little or nothing could grow.
There was one exception to this, the Flanders poppies. Nothing could stop them blooming, even in the middle of chaos and destruction.
That’s why, today, the poppy has become a symbol of hope and peace.
And, even if you’re not into celebrating Remembrance Day, wearing a bright red
poppy on your coat or jacket looks pretty good!