The Tower of London poppies of remembrance


For a change nothing to do with food. We went to see the Poppies at Tower today.

Everybody seems to be talking about them. We want the poppies to stay. We are deeply moved by these small, simple flowers representing a horrible loss and an unimaginable sadness, and I think – maybe - a hope for a better world.

A silly, pretentious art critic said they are too pretty to adequately represent the horror of war and the fact that it has become so popular must mean it can't be of much artistic value. What utter bollocks.

We know war is terrible. We don’t need to see bones and barbed wire in the moat of the Tower to understand the gut-wrenching hopeless awfulness of people killing each other in an unimaginable scale. Never have I been to a place where so many people have congregated in such silence. We are all moved – some to silence, many to tears - by these little unassuming flowers and what they represent. A hundred years on we still remember them.

Appreciating and being touched by the haunting beauty of the poppies of blood representing our British military dead, doesn’t mean we don’t understand the catastrophic international horror of war. I grew up in cold war Finland. Not many people understand what that means. It means an absolute threat of death to freedom. Look at today’s Russia swallowing Crimea without a hiccup, cruising their submarines freely in the hapless Swedish waters, flying their planes over Finnish airspace. I digress. But this fills me with fear and that’s what I think when I look at the tiny poppies of freedom.

As an immigrant to this wonderful country that I love and serve as my own, I mourn for every young man who gave his life for the independence of this nation which has become a beacon of freedom and tolerance. 

But these poppies are for all of us, they are for all the lost and all the loss. I mourn for the German mother who lost his son. I mourn for the boy who wanted to do his duty. I mourn for the young men who played football on Christmas Day – I cry for them all, equally.

I mourn for the young men who fought in the Finnish civil war in 1918 deciding the destiny of our country and died for our freedom. I mourn for my grandfather who as a teenager was put to stand in a firing squad barely understanding what he was killing for.

They all wanted a better, fairer future. Don’t we all.

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