Why am I uncomfortable around poppies?
I went to the supermarket the other day. We had a quick snack at the café and as we walked in I notice a desk laid out with poppies and an elderly woman and gentleman looking after the stall. I hate walking on by.
Later as my husband dealt with the checkout, I went and looked at the community noticeboard which was behind the poppy stall. As relative newbies to the area, we are on the lookout for things to get involved in and events to attend.
The lady on the stall was staring at me. I felt uncomfortable. She obviously could not know why I was not buying or wearing a poppy. I had the option of telling her about how experience as an ex-service family. I know the Royal British Legion who get the income from the Poppy Appeal are guilty of mistreating some ex-service families including ours. I could tell her how they cast my husband aside after years of loyalty from him, how they knocked his self-esteem so that it took him months to find work, how we would not have managed without the help of a female friend and my brother who kept us afloat financially. I could tell her how we had to relocate hundreds of miles for a new job and that when we approached the Legion for help with costs they refused to give us a single penny.
I wondered if I could write it all down for her and then thought that was pretty absurd. So I said nothing and felt a mixture of anger and guilt.
This year I remembered all those who have served or are serving their country because the Legion cannot take that away from us. My maternal grandfather served in the Connaught Rangers and was injured at Gallipoli during World War One. My late father served in the Royal Navy during and after World War Two. The whole family maintained the silence today.
It hurts less this year now we are starting to get back on our feet.
I don’t think I will ever buy a poppy again or not whilst the money goes to the heartless Legion. And I pity their collectors who probably don’t know the whole story.
I do acknowledge that the Legion provides welfare assistance to some service families. I am just sad that they turned their backs on ours.