6 Nov 2010

Poppies and remembrance

It is the season of Remembrance. “At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, we shall remember them.”

I am devoting Snowblog today, unashamedly, to urging you to watch or record The Art of War, my concluding film of the Channel 4’s season The Genius of British Art. It is a film of which I am deeply proud.

I explore not only the great work of Britain’s war artists, from the first world war to the present day. I do  more than that. The film places “Remembrance” at the heart of one of the most deeply personal and individual relationships – that of those who die in war, and the citizen who determines to remember them.

This is an exceptionally beautiful film. It is a passionate film, spell-bindingly shot, directed and edited. And if the discourse over Remembrance engages you, even if it doesn’t, I promise you, you will not be wasting an hour on Channel 4 tomorrow night, Sunday 7 November at 7.00pm, by watching it. The film will, of course, also be on Channel 4+1.

And yes, when Mr Snow attends Remembrance Sunday in Winchester Cathedral in this film, as he did last year, he does what anyone else would do.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

101 reader comments

  1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    Back home?
    I have seen snippets of the film, but unfortunately will be working all evening on Sunday. Is there another showing Jon?

    Poppies: although I love the flower( and hundreds sprung up all over my garden this year in between crevices and cracks in paving stones apart from their designated places) they are fragile , blown away in a couple of days, reminders of pain and opium and allusions to blood and suffering.

    I will not watch the poppies fall from the ceiling this year. I will not wear a poppy, I will not watch the cenotaph being dressed with wreaths.

    I will pay generously into the collection boxes. No one is interested in whether I remember anybody. I am not a part of that ceremony. The ritual is sad.I am not a part of that suffering. I am thankful for my Terra Firma and home .A new age is upon us and I am not a part of the old or the new. Vulgarity and aggression: NO!

    Art is not for arts sake it is an expression of the inner self. There is just too much suffering and fighting .

    I will keep personal memories for my dead parents alive with the continual growth of new flowers every year and regard that large seedhead with thoughts of progress.

  2. adz says:

    Total respect to those who have given up their rights to breath & be able to live on this planet in the name of war. Most are brainwashed into thinking they are doing the right thing by fighting for their country. Fact is that war is not a natural thing but has been injected into many of our souls by those who want conflict in the name of profit because that is what all wars are about. It’s not about defending motherland but about the super rich getting even wealthier.
    adzmundo The Venus Project

    1. David says:

      Completely agree!

  3. Saltaire Sam says:

    I do not buy a poppy. Mainly because I decided a while back that the small amount of money I have to give to charity will go to helping children.

    But there is another point. Every week at PMQs and on other occasions we have politicians paying tribute to the forces. I believe that while fine words are nice, the country owes it to servicemen now and then to look after them in sickness, disability and old age, rather than them having to rely on charity. The same goes for other people who put their lives on the line for us like firemen.

  4. Britt_W says:

    Look forward to watching the film.

    I also – usually – wear a poppie (but only on the actual day) and – usually – watch the TV coverage of Remembrance Day. But I sometimes feel there is a smidgen of hypocriticism in all this parading and the sombre Dimbleby voice.
    I mean, I have the deepest respect for anyone who has gone out to war, and risked dying – or died – for something they believed was right. As many others, I actively protested against the Vietnam war back in the 70s and could only defend war if the cause was to defend a country against ‘the invader’.

    But, the thing is, we ‘remember’ every year, we get emotional and tell ourselves how terrible war is. And yet – we keep doing it. If I can – equally unshamedly – direct you to this blog post about Harry Patch, you’ll understand where I’m coming from: http://bit.ly/dmbT8z

    1. anniexf says:

      A few years ago Dimbleby, when commenting on the veterans as they passed the Cenotaph, remarked in tones of horrified amazement that some of them lived on “less than £10K a year!”. My partner & I looked at each other, as you do, in somewhat scornful amusement – what planet did/does Dimbleby live on? Perhaps that was just the equivalent of the annual wine bill chez Dimbleby…

  5. daz ariel says:

    Dan Snow should wear a poppy,a big one to,like Kenneth Kendal used to(I bet he still does to)respectfully wear in the 70s.Peter Sissions all ways wore a small one ,which with out me glasses I used to get angry that he had forgot till the wife told me he had a little one.Gorden Honeycomb used to read the news with no trousers on so I,m told.but no one could tell(his desk blocked the viewers view)but he all ways wore a poppy to so.Next year if mr snow refuses he should go.Or I will write the same letter again. A poopy patrot

    1. k eadleey says:

      Its jon snow not dan snow,Jon is dans uncle,at least get who you want to get to wear a poppy right!

    2. k eadleey says:

      Oh and I think it was Reginald Bosanquet who once as a bet,read the news with no trousers on.He was also thrown off the judging panel for dustman of the year 1975 and buried with a poppy(probably)at Putney Vale cemetery..

  6. Mudplugger says:

    Remembrance of those who gave their lives, mostly there unwillingly, takes many forms and is not exclusively reflected by the annual poppy-wearing. Your planned art-based format sounds an excellent idea and I hope it lives up to the billing.
    I am of that most fortunate generation, many of whom do not personally know anyone who died in conflict – given the history of the last hundred years, that’s a rare thing, but hopefully one which will become far more common.
    But that does not inhibit my respect and remembrance of all those unknown to me who suffered the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of the freedoms we enjoy today. Indeed, as many of those same freedoms are now under assault for reasons of governmental convenience, the remembrance of that earlier sacrifice should stiffen all our resolve to protect those liberties all the more.
    The poppy serves a singular annual purpose, but remembrance is an everyday event, or should be. The more forms and formats which help this, the better.

  7. sophie says:

    It’s not the season of Rememberance for you Jon! You have a choice as to whether you want to wear a poppy; the young men who died in the war had no choice at all. My father didn’t go to war for you to indulge yourself in excuses and pompous pseudo- intellectualism. Get over yourself!

    1. anniexf says:

      Though it’s wrong to speak ill of the dead, I must inject a little realism here – we’re in danger of sentimentality. My father didn’t want to go to war. He tried to join the Police, to avoid the call-up, but they wouldn’t have him. He served the full term, from Sept. 1939 till demob. in February 1946. The Army turned him into a lard-arsed lance-corporal who came home 2 stones heavier than when he joined, and a bullying little coward to boot. So there you have my personal, unique perspective. Jon has his. Both are valid. Perhaps you were lucky with your father. Mine was never a hero. When we remember them, let’s not fool ourselves that they were, or would have been, heroic in their private lives. Yes, they gave their lives for what we have now, and I’m very grateful, make no mistake about that. But I’m not sentimental, either.

    2. James Potter says:

      I think you’ll find that your father did indeed go to war for those reasons – so all of us can have the freedom to CHOOSE what we do. If the wearing of a poppy is forced, then it is also meaningless. Your father died precisely so we can all do what we choose to do and say how we feel.

      RIP to your father and all who died, but please, stop this ridiculous anger at anyone who chooses a different way of expressing their gratitude to the former generations!

    3. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      sophie , sopie, sophie, why so cruel?

    4. sophie says:

      James Potter – My father isn’t dead and he concurs that he didn’t go to war so that people could indulge themselves in pompous pseudo-intellectualism.

      Please stop this ridiculous idea that wearing a poppy is such a chore – what other way is there to show our obvious gratitude?

    5. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      The problem is not the view, but the way that you expressed yourself. It was rude.

    6. adrian clarke says:

      Sophie i found you neither rude nor making unjustified comments.It is a free country because of those who fought, died or lived.We owe them a great debt of gratitude

  8. Alan Henry says:

    Why should we be made to ware a poppy surly we still have freedom of speech in this country don’t we?
    every 1 remembers in their own way and if are forced to buy and ware 1 that will end up in the future becoming a sales tactic and that’s wrong if we won’t to show our support let us do it in our own way not forced to ware it on our jackets or tops.

  9. Cymro says:

    Did anybody else see the news footage of the various striking BBC journalists? Was I alone in noticing that not one of them (as far as I could see) was wearing a poppy? Confirms the theory that it’s mandated on-screen uniform at this time of year.

    1. margaret brandreth- Jones says:

      I think it is more a case of intuitively grasping expected protocol.

      It is implicitly understood, people on the screen do have a lot of focus placed upon them and gestures connected with the love of ones country and the people who serve to keep us warm , fed and clothed are the continuing generations who also watch the screen. Public figures are expected to be role models.

      Popularity can also be swayed by dissaproval of the audience and we all need to keep our jobs . In the media that entails understanding the boundaries which can be crossed , in relation to the type of role they have on screen

      Michael Foot for instance, did not class himself with the black mourners , but the colours of an army private and for that he was adversley criticised.

  10. Paul Begley says:

    “In all the stuff about Poppy wearing not one journlist has called, emailed, or tweeted me! : let Art and War say it all”

    And this surprises you? Looking forward to the programme.

  11. adrian clarke says:

    I find this a disappointing and in some ways hypocritical blog,or certainly the sentiments and title are.
    For someone Jon,who pointedly chooses not to wear the poppy on air,and only in your own time ( i defended your right to do that in a free society) to then make a programm which you publish as “the poppy and remembrance” is pure hypocracy.
    By all means make a program, which i have not yet seen,of great “war” art but do not put the two together.
    I was also disappointed by some of the other comments.Young men and women join the armed forces for several reasons and that is not always to defend our country,but by so joining that is in effect the end result.Most have no intention or desire to go to war , but at the behest of our leaders,whether the cause is just or not,once called to war will do their duty to the best of their ability,even if it involves sacrificing their own lives.
    Should we remember them?Of course we should for whether we agree or not they actually fight on our behalf as natives of this country and/or commonwealth.The government has a duty to pay for the living,injured in doing their duty,but the British Legion helps in more ways than that.

  12. adrian clarke says:

    There is no requirement of any man,woman or child to buy or wear a poppy,and there are many other reputable charities after our money.I support the RNIB for the help it gave to my late father and my eldest son.
    The British Legion and the Poppy are totally different.They symbolise the deaths of many brave souls who gave their lives not only for our country but for us and our freedoms that we enjoy through their deaths.Any patriotic Britain should celebrate those freedoms by buying and wearing the poppy.It should be done with the same pride that those sailors,soldiers and airmen and women fought in our name and on our behalf.
    Whether we support war or not , for whatever reason , it is not the fault of our service personel.Those that criticise wars, and i do the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,should still have pride in those that fight in our name.They are doing their duty to this country.Would we have them refuse?Would we have said do not fight the Germans in WW1 or Hitler in WW2.If so how could we enjoy the freedoms we do.
    That is why i detest those Ismalists who so decry this country they call for our servicemens deaths.
    They should be deported from these shores.

    1. sophie says:

      Thank you Adrian…and I agree wholeheartedly!

  13. Y.S. says:

    When you remember the British fallen please also remember the troops of the Empire. The Indian ( Hindu, Sikh and Muslim), the Africans and the West Indies who volunteered.

  14. Rather Wise says:

    To pour more fuel on the fire, I wear a white poppy. I think that the red poppy glorifies war and perpetuates zenophobia. It may generate acts of great bravery, but war isn’t heroic. Taking up arms should always be the last resort. Let’s stop dwelling on the past and focus on the future, if Germany is a threat it’s as an economic giant.

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      Thanks to Rather Wise for mention of the white poppy – a thoughtful alternative to the Establishment red. Ironic that we seem to (want to?) forget that the red poppy is also the source of heroin, and that troops currently deployed – and dying – in Afghanistan are being tasked with its eradication (rather than, as many would argue, channeling its cultivation for the pain-relief we in the west rely on in our high-tech hospitals). Contradictions here which we might usefully explore. Travelling on the London underground recently, I wondered occasionally whether any of those wearing red poppies were members of the BNP or other zenophobic/racist organisations. NB it seems that Remebrance Sunday will be held on 14 November, yet the poppy brigade – like premature Santa Clauses and fireworks – have been out in force for the last couple of weeks. Another opiate for the people, when what we need is critical thinking?

      Thanks for a well-presented programme tonight. Not a flaw in sight. Combined with some war poetry, it would have made a salutary precursor to 11 November’s reflection and remembrance.

      In Haiti, it’s not war, but corrupt/enfeebled government that threatens people’s lives.

    2. adrian clarke says:

      UNWISE,i find the wearing of a white poppy a disgrace .The red poppy no more glorifies war than a i am a Socialist .The poppy is a symbol of the freedom you choose to do what you wish .A pity you do not understand what respect is.That is respect for those that gave you the freedom to be disrespectful.
      Meg the poppy is not the Opium Poppy , and the red denotes the blood shed for your freedom

  15. Meg Howarth says:

    Have twittered in reply to your latest on poppies and remembrance, Jon. Wonder if HoL’s Helene Hayman will be wearing hers in Norfolk or London, depending on which home she’s at at 11am on 11/11.

    Meantime, hope C4/yourself will follow – perhaps in conjunction with Private Eye – the obscene salaries garnerned over the last few years by NHS/PCT managerial
    staff – perhaps going towards second homes? Meantime see link below:


    Best in Haiti and for safe return.

  16. Fatima Rosales Naya says:

    I believe nobody should be forced to wear anything at all against their will: it goes against humans rights, I am sure. I am a very unconventional kind of person and often go against fashion just to prove a point. However, I’ve just returned from a visit to the D Day Landing Beaches in Normandy, Omaha American Military Cemetery included, and while I was there, I was thinking that this year’s Remembrance Day would have a deeper meaning than ever before and would wear the poppy with more understanding, pride and greater respect for all those who fought so bravely and selfishly for our freedom. I’ve been wearing already.

  17. 3 lions says:

    I’ve never agreed with your politics or leftiness, last year the poppy issue annoyed me but I have to say I am standing with you this year, I have noticed a silent agenda that picks out anyone who is not wearing one. I observed the bbc bods wearing them weeks ago. I will not wear one this year, although I will contribute financially towards supporting Britains forces ( of which I have played my part along with a long line of family members) along with Israel’s defence forces.

  18. Phillip Edwards says:


    I have just finished watching your film “The Art of War.”

    It is well nigh impossible for me to find the right words to praise the sensitivity and plain human understanding it contains. It is almost beyond praise and is very much in keeping with your well-deserved reputation.

    Quite without saying so, it demonstrates the terrible price paid by young men and women, their families and their societies to “resolve” conflicts created by stupid, bitter old men with no regard for human decency. The tragedy is there is no end in sight for it.

    The same kind of mentality continues to rule in the world’s capitals. Only the language and methods change. Meanwhile, millions are fed into the meat grinder so the guilty men can profit and control.

    It was a truly brilliant film. Many thanks.

  19. Saltaire Sam says:

    Excellent film, Jon. Very moving and reinforced all my feelings about war. Looking at the Henry Moore drawings in the underground, I thought again of all those poor innocent Iraqis who suddenly found themselves subject to our Schock and Awe bombing. Thousands of lives destroyed with barely a thought.

    My only slight disappointment was that there wasn’t a space for Don McCullin, or was photography not considered art?

    But just as the poetry of WW1, so the art reminds us that there is nothing glorious about war and you brought that out so powerfully.

    Congratulations to director, editor, camermen and the guy who selected the music.

  20. anniexf says:

    Excellent film Jon, especially the Sandham Memorial Chapel which was new to me. Steve McQueen’s piece was quite startling, exuding a kind of silent horror. As you said, superb filming, & unforgettable. Thanks to all.

  21. adrian clarke says:

    I watched the program , Jon ,and was not impressed with the artists you chose or the pictures , but again in a free society that was your choice . When you continue not to wear a poppy of remembrance and thanks for the freedom you have ,to express that choice , again it is your freedom of choice . The poppy seeks to remember THOSE THAT GAVE YOU THAT FREEDOM

    1. adrian clarke says:

      I also noted the hypocrosy you showed by wearing a poppy, not on remembrance day but as the start of the film.You can not have it both ways.That is not to wear on the news because as you say it is personal and you only wear one on the 11th, yet there you were probaly months ago using it for self promotion

  22. Jim Flavin says:

    I watched the programme – and to put it mildly was disappointed . Jon Snow said at one point that he found Specers art uplifting – well there is nothing uplifting about having your arms or legs blown off . This was just some intellectua; discusion re Art and War . Even the artists who tried to depict the horrors of war – well it did not work for me – not in the way a photograph of mutilated corpses would do .Only now of cours e tne authorities do not let photographers too near battle scenes . Indeed one ” artist ” said Photography could not do as art did – . Did he ever hear of Don Mc Cullin – and others – who showed the horros of war – and helped to bring the Vietnam war to an end . Photography is a far more effctive way of showing war for what it is Brutal . I accept that the series was about painting primarily- but for me this programme tonight failed .- And as ever it is Rich mans War and Poor Mans fight

    1. adrian clarke says:

      thumbs up Jim ,if i had any

  23. bdbcks says:

    those poppies look like bullet wounds weeping blood. usual case of symbolism hidden in plain sight.

    learn something new moment of the day… the henry moore drawings- most emotive, thanks.

  24. alex says:

    Why does jon snow show such respect thsi tiem round when in years fone by he dpoesn’t even wear a poppy yo broadcast and made a big song and dance of why not wither;

    How jetllagged is he after these long flights and staright back itno work;

    You work him too hard

    get himt o precis the work of brioke, owen and sasson

  25. alex says:

    Do I ahve to watch to know what the last papr menas;

    A few yeras ago unlike laasitre Stewart and Nock Owen and Yates who wear poppies, Snow made a song and dance of why he protested agaginst wearing one;

    Yet he did wear one in thsi artisits film ; Why the turnaaround;

    Will he wear one on air thsi week

    I bet he can preis the war poets with A greeaded essays;

    If he were a homosexual , Rupert Brooke would increase blood flow

  26. S=Alex says:

    When was it filemd;

    he was in Haioti over the weekeend;

    1. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

      Konnelsky ?


  27. Paul Begley says:

    War and Remembrance: An excellent and informed programme, which allowed us to infer your views about war and patriotism.
    However, given the dissonance between this and the misrepresentations of your position which have occupied so many commentators, what have we learned about journalism, and its supposed interest in establishing the truth?
    Very few are given an opportunity to present their opinions – even in this case, the programme was prepared well in advance of the hullabaloo, so your “right of reply” only came about by chance.

  28. jim hodge says:

    Dear Sir.
    For once there is a public figure who stands by their conscience. That is so pleasing to see that I have to comment and there has been so much said besides that there have to be things that need to be said.
    The poppy campaign is to raise money for those who still suffer from the damage done to them by war. That damage is not always outwardly seen. My grandfather was invalided from the western fromt 3 times and 3 times he went back. He died from the effects of gas in the 1930’s after years of suffering and through all that raising money for the socialisation of medicine – the veterans who could not work had to pay for their own treatment.
    The poppy itself is a sybbol of the Flanders Fields in which so many of our young men died. It is for the remembrance of all those who fell in war – and there are many who are forgotten who died.
    There are many people of conscience who served as medical orderlies who died as they tried to save the wounded. While those who saw that as condoning war spent the war in prison under sentence of death.
    The white poppy is the origin of opium that causes so much misery. Why anyone chose that as their symbol is beyond me.

    1. k eadleey says:

      I think the opium poppy is purple not white and heroin was apart of the reparations treaty with aspirin as German inventions taken by the victors of war.Today used as pain killers as in wars since

  29. k eadleey says:

    I dont think Jon Snow wearing a poppy is an issue compared to Robbie williams and gary barlow singing a song called”shame”which has the line “Sweet surender” at the home for hero’s concert at the royal albert hall this year.Watch that jon I think I was the only one who noticed too.PUT THAT IN YOUR SHOW Jon snow.

  30. David Rees says:

    I respect Mr. Snow’s stance over Poppy Fascism.

    Surely it’s a matter for each individual.

    Personally I don’t wear one, if I were to wear a poppy for my great uncle who was wounded at Gallipoli and returned to be killed in the 2nd Battle of Gaza in March 1917, I would also be wearing one for those who murdered Irish people in 2 Bloody Sunday’s (1921 + 1972) and at Ballymurphy in 1972, and countless other places I find equally distasteful.

  31. David Rees says:

    Please edit, Ballymurphy was 1971


  32. Meg Howarth says:

    Can someone help clear up the general confusion about the colour of the opium poppy; and isn’t it the case that all poppies produce the milky white sap with narcotic properties from which heroin derived? I’ve certainly seen red opium-poppies in news coverage of the Afghan conflict.

    I won’t be wearing a poppy either, whether on 11/11 or 14/11. What does that make me, snowbloggers above, who seem to prefer to judge by outward appearances?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Meg it shows you exercising your rights in a free society,albeit with freedoms saved by those the poppy remembers.I have criticised no one for not buying or wearing one.
      All i have attempted is to show why we have the poppy and remembrance day.
      I even agreed with Jon’s rights not to wear one , until i saw his film and his using not only the poppy but remembrance to promote it

  33. adrian clarke says:

    David , at least you have a choice.Without the bravery and loss of many who fought for you to have that choice, you might now know what true fascism was about.
    It certainly is up to the individual,and i respect Jon’s right not to wear one, but i find his reasons do not stand up to scrutiny ,when he uses the poppy and remembrance for self promotion of his film.
    That to me is the height of hypocracy

    1. Rowan09 ( Canada) says:

      I agree with Adrian we all have the right to make the choice noit to rspect the red Poppy,
      I am old enought to have lived through 2nd World War, I watched the soldiers march to train stations to do to War, I was in Scotland then and every night I heard the Nazi bombrs fly over our hous to bonb the shipyards in Fife and Glasgow. I also have memories of a youbg soldier being killed on June 12 th 1945 if you know your history the War ended June 6th 1945 that young mans Mother sent 5 Sons to war and onkly one survives.
      Even Now as aProud Candaian I wil Proudly wear the Red Poppy during the November here in Canada it is Remembrabce Month.

  34. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

    …there was interesting piece by Rod Liddle in yesterdays Sunday Times questioning Jon Snows use of the word “facism”. It’s worth a read. It’s a big word – “facism” (6 letters). Are you sure you know how to use it properly Jon ?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      digits up Richard.I could have had fun on this blog had we our thumbs, and i bet those that have not replied or criticised my comments , would have given me thumbs down :)

  35. 24 years service says:

    ok, lets get some perspective. We live in a democracy…with me so far..ok. As a democracy we trust politicians not soldiers to make decisions about going to war. War is NOT a soldiers decision. He or she is sent to war to on behalf of the country.
    Therefore, we must respect our soldiers for doing the job we the democratic people of these isles send them to do.
    We must support them and look after them and yes remember them if they fall. They did not choose to go to war, politicians chose to send them.
    Wearing a poppy costs what…50p? £1? Some soldiers have given much more for us, yes us the democratic people of this country who have elected politicians to make decisions for us.Who sent our soldiers to places they did not decide to go but went all the same. Therefore as the people of the country we must wear our poppy and show our support to them.

  36. phil dicks says:

    Richard: it’s actually 7 letters, fascism.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      i just liked his comments Phil.We can all be dyslexic,illiterate or enumerate,but it is the idea or thought that counts.In this modern society where freedoms are at risk because of the thought police , the politically correct, bastions of ethnicity and diversity,it is nice to tell it as it really is outside the ivory towers of those who love themselves and their little empires.

    2. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

      …so it is. Put it down to a blonde moment. Cue howls of dersison from blondies.

    3. phil dicks says:

      Adrian: you’re right. My comment was narky.
      Apologies to Richard.

  37. Josh says:

    Just saw the programme. Tears in my eyes– primarily because of Queen and Country by Steve McQueen.


  38. jbthomson says:

    The opium poppy, just to clarify, is white to purplish, but has varieties which are pink, violet, bluish, or red.

    They also have 4-8 petals.

    If you want to make comparisons to whether either colour of poppy worn by supporters of remembrance day charities also symbolises the opium poppy that’s fine. It’s your choice, even though it probably causes great offence to some.

    It is also a choice not to wear a poppy or support remembrance day charities. Personally I wonder who you’re wearing the poppy for. Do you find it difficult to remember the horrors of war unless you’re constantly looking at a cheap plastic symbol? Unlikely. Is it a more self-serving reason? More likely.

    Get over it.

  39. 24 years service says:

    I really do dispair. I ealy think peope just don’t get it. See my earier blog soldiers don’t decide to go to war we the people elect politicians to make decisions; who then send soldiers. If you don’t like the democratic system move to North Korea.

    2. I served 24 years in the Army and quite frankly while our troops are getting killed and injured to winge and whine like little girls about getting upset because someone has asked you to wear a poppy.. well stand up be a man take it on the chin and shut up and get on with it.

    3. Todays society we actualy lack peer pressure, when did you last see an adult chastise a child for doing something socialy unaceptable? I’m glad to see not wearing a poppy is still socialy unaceptable. When people start losing a perspective and dont care what is socialy aceptable and what is not then society as a whole is lost. I don’t agree that people should be forced to wear a popy I would just have an opinion on someone who didnt want to wear one.

    4. Lastly TV presenters are paid lots of money and with this comes some moral responsibility to show the way to the rest of us by personal example. TV has a big impact and reminds people

    1. Cymro says:

      “See my earier blog soldiers don’t decide to go to war we the people elect politicians to make decisions; who then send soldiers.”

      But people these days CHOOSE to join the armed forces. They’re not conscripted to, as they were for both World Wars. If you don’t want to go to war, don’t join up, simples!

  40. Sue D says:

    I wish people would read what they’re about to post and correct typos at least so it makes sense!
    Very good programme, Jon. Thought provoking and sombre, with much that was new to me about war artists’ work.
    The Steve McQueen piece is quite breathtaking in its impact.

  41. Meg Howarth says:

    Adrian, Letter in today’s Guardian re the white poppy:

    ‘Recent veterans state that “Remembrance should be marked with sentiment ‘Never Again'” (Letters, 6 November). That is why I wear a white poppy with my red poppy. The white poppy is the symbol of the Peace Pledge Union which supports resistance to war and insists that conflicts should be resolved with justice and without violence’ (Penny McCulloch, Coventry).

    You may not think much of the Guardian, but please don’t blame the messenger. Conflict, whether on the world or domestic stage, will surely never be resolved without open and questioning, not closed and, all too often, bigoted minds? The tenor of much on Snowblog above sounds shrill and knee-jerk when what’s needed is intelligent debate – about every aspect of life. There’s a well-known epitaph on a tombstone in Highgate Cemetery in north London: ‘Philosophers have only interpreted the world/The point is to change it’, to which I’d add a third line: ‘In order to do so, we need to understand and change ourselves’. Let’s stop judging and start listening.

  42. jbthomson says:

    @ 24years service

    I never voted for the last Labour government and I never voted for the ConDem embarrassment. Can you explain in what way democracy means that I am held to account for decisions taken by people I never elected? That sounds like North Korea to me.

    Don’t tell me soldiers are indirectly sent by me because the Government are elected by the people. I have never voted to go to war, have you? You are mistaken if you think the UK is a democracy. Middle England does not speak for me.

    Why does moral responsibility automatically come with getting paid a high salary? Are people on television your role models? I doubt it. Why should they be for anyone else?

    It is farcical that people should get so upset over such a trivial issue and take out on a much respected, long-serving, and well-educated man such as Jon Snow. If you want to have a go at people on the television who lack moral responsibility then you have plenty of targets.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      jb thompson,perhaps you never even voted,but it matters not , that is not the issue.As for democracy ,if you ever read my blogs , i do not believe we are ,yet whatever government is in power ,like it or not ,it acts on our behalf, That includes sending our servicemen and women to war.We may not like or agree with their actions , but if we are British it is still in our names.
      No politician really speaks for me , but in whatever form of democracy it is, and i do have an indipendent vote,the party in power speaks on behalf of a Britain i belong to.
      Moral responsibility should come from us all , but it is more beholden on those in the public eye,and therefore for some sad souls “role models” to show the highest moral responsibility.
      As you say there are many targets on TV , but this is Jons blog .He opened himself up to criticism by refusing to wear the poppy ,except in his own time and on rememberance day 11.11 2010.That was fine by me and other bloggers,until he then used the poppy and rememberance to promote his own art film.At that stage ,to me he lost his moral responsibility and became a hypocrit.If you think that is trivial what does that say of your moral perspective??

    2. jbthomson says:

      Adrian, of course I voted, why would I complain if I never bothered, and if it’s not the issue why mention it?

      The reason I mentioned democracy is because another poster believes we live in one and used this to justify their point that we elect a government to make decisions for us. My point was that I didn’t elect the government, so their decisions are not mine. Unfortunately, it is not my choice that the country in which I live is considered a part of Britain. However, the party in power in my country speaks on my behalf because I voted for them, so if they make a decision I disagree with I will live with that.

      The reason I mentioned moral responsibility was to question why the level of salary dictates the level of morality. I agree that we share a moral responsibility. I disagree that those in the public eye should have a higher responsibility.

      I agree with you that Jon opened himself up to criticism by posting on his blog. However, I fail to see how his choice to wear one on his terms, rather than his employer’s, is immoral. The problem is, morality is subjective, hence why I think it is trivial.

      Finally, please spell my name correctly, it’s not immoral, just rude.

    3. adrian clarke says:

      jb thomson,since when has a spelling mistake been rude??The way you comment to others would be considered rude by many.Your perfection it seems knows no bounds.As for voting many that do not vote complain.I am not sure what you would describe as democratic, but it seems that in your world it is only democratic if those You vote for are elected.I am afraid that is not democracy,more dictatorship.
      The other poster was certainly correct.We elect governments to make decisions for us.That they are not decisions we want or favour does not make it undemocratic.From your blog and attitude one might infer you are SNP and that would of course explain your attitude.Having said that ,there were many brave Scottish soldiers, sailors and airmen who also fought and fell so you could voice your opinions in a free society.

    4. jbthomson says:

      If you can’t be bothered to spell someone’s name correctly I consider that rude. If you can find an example of where I have been rude I will of course apologise.

      I accept there is no agreed definition of democracy, a fact that is well documented. However, equality and freedom have been identified as important characteristics of democracy since Aristotle (whose work on democracy is what we have based everything on). In the UK, all citizens are not equal before the law and do not have equal access to power. There are many reasons why the UK would not be considered wholly democratic (according to agreed general understanding), hence being calculated as number 21 in The Economist’s Democracy Index.

      I never said it is undemocratic that those you vote for are not elected, I said they don’t speak for me or make decisions in my name.

      Infer all you like about my political allegiance, it’s relevance to this discussion I fail to see.

      I never disputed whether soldiers, etc, are brave nor did I say they should not be remembered. My argument is that to choose not to wear a poppy is not immoral and does not mean you cannot, or do not, show respect to fallen forces.

    5. adrian clarke says:

      Personally I wonder who you’re wearing the poppy for. Do you find it difficult to remember the horrors of war unless you’re constantly looking at a cheap plastic symbol? Unlikely. Is it a more self-serving reason? More likely.

      Get over it.

      jb thomson,i find the above comment from yourself , very rude.Just because it does not fit into your view of why people choose to wear the poppy does not make their opinion any less real than your own.
      As for your political allegiance,i really could not give a damn , but it was raised by yourself .
      You also stated that decisions taken ,in your name were not democratic because you hadn’t voted for the party making them .
      I do not remember anyone saying it was immoral not to wear a poppy , infact most bloggers have said it is a choice,and there has been no suggestion that those not wearing a poppy are disrespectful.
      In your desire to denigrate those that do support our fighting forces past and present,by wearing the poppy i am afraid you have had to resort to puerile attacks on Britain’s democracy.
      Like it or not a democracy that gives you the right to air your views

  43. adrian clarke says:

    Meg , if those that wear the white poppy are against war and not the soldiers that fought in past and present wars ,i can accept that .Where do such proceeds collected for the white poppy go?
    My understanding was that the white poppy was like the white feathers, something else that was distasteful.
    As for an intelligent debate i believe that is what we normally have on “snowblog” and have seen no sign of your knee jerk reaction

    1. Meg Howarth says:

      Why not google Peace Pledge Union, Adrian.

    2. adrian clarke says:

      yes i did Meg.The white poppy belongs to the so called peace movements , including CND and the proceeds go to those movements , not the British Legion and not to those that allegedly they still say they remember.Had they had their way in 1939 we would now be part of a greater Germany. So give me the good old red poppy every time.

  44. 24 years service says:

    Ref Sue D I apologise for my old ageing computer missing letters out the keyboard is broken. Unfortunately having been to all the war zones the UK has been involved in (and therefore after 24 years of soldiering I think I am able to comment more relevantly than people like you) However, after 24 years service my military pension does not unfortunately stretch to buying me the state of the art computer you may have. Perhaps you need to be less patronising and think before you type. Old soldiers can have a voice too…..the poppy appeal after all is for ex servicemen and women.

    1. bdbcks says:

      brains don’t stop developing until they are approx 24 years old. people can (and many do) join the armed services aged 16. that means the conditioning they receive turns the majority of them into what is essentially cannon fodder and such is the intensity their brains are literally hard-wired into accepting orders without question.

      then there is the peer pressure. the willful exploitation by those on high of the camaraderie of those down below. sure, the camaraderie feels genuine, but its instigation is built on a foundation of deceit.

      add into the equation the power of the media, stirring and emotive reports of past and present battles, all lush orchestral strings and brass. who hasn’t daydreamed at least once or twice of being monty’s double or a exceedingly camp ss officer.

      next time a senior hands you a gun, hand it back and say “no thanks, you use it instead”. then hope that said senior repeats the process all the way till the gun gets handed to a member of parliament. let’s see how keen they’d be for war if they were the people who actually had to put their lives on the line.

      divide and conquer…

      one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

  45. 24 years service says:

    Guys if you choose not to use your vote you can hardly whine and whinge about not getting representation now can you. As for democracy, like it or not so far on this planet anyway it’s the best system we have (not just my opinion it’s the majority of the worlds population opinion). In any case, if you are so passionate about this subject why don’t you join the forces serve in Afghan then be qualified to discuss this with some perspective….. I thought not.

    1. jbthomson says:

      The point is, we don’t live in a democracy. It may well be the best system, but that’s irrelevant because what we have isn’t democratic.

      By your logic, no one is qualified to discuss the morality of whether choosing not to wear a controversial symbol of remembrance (see this discussion) when it is forced upon you unless you have served in the armed forces during a period of conflict. Did I understand you correctly?

      What about the people responsible for sending the armed forces into conflict? Are they qualified if they have not served?

      No you’re right, perspective is what’s important here. Blindly sending armies of young men and women into conflicts we have no idea how to win without any prior experience of serving in the armed forces that’s fine. Discussing the effectiveness of forced symbolic remembrance versus the choice to show your respect in your own way; that’s immoral.

    2. Cymro says:

      “why don’t you join the forces serve in Afghan then be qualified to discuss this with some perspective”

      Oh will you get over yourself! It’s one thing I don’t like and that’s self-importance. Where does it end? Nobody should be able to engage in any debate on the morality of armed conflict unless they are or have been a member of the armed forces? Does the military dictatorship in Burma ring any bells?

  46. 24 years service says:

    JBThompson….We don’t live in a democracy? Really?…..ummmm perhaps thats your opinion and not fact. Does the rest of the world think this? does the UN this? What evidence do you base this on? If not a democracy what are we an autocracy; I think not. I think you will find most normal people will find your opinion that we do not live in a democracy franklylunacy. People vote in fair elections ummm I think thats democracy.
    As for wearing poppies. I think it shows your support for our forces not the war they served in but the people who served. This is an important distinction I still don’t think you have mastered. Soldiers do not choose their battles but go anyway.
    Wearing a poppy is a show of support for ex and serving members of the armed forces9through the money you give) and to remember those who have fallen.
    Having some school girl tantrum because someone asks you to a poppy one is quite frankly pathetic. We have troops getting shot at blown up maimed, horrific injuries yet Jon and others decide their feelings are hurt…..bless….. how pathetic

    1. adrian clarke says:
    2. jbthomson says:

      24 years service, please see my reply to Adrian Clarke http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/poppies-and-remembrance/14042#comment-25624 as to the democracy issue. Although I will say that democracy contains many more important facets than just fair elections.

      I agree that poppies are one way of showing your support for fallen forces, I have never disputed that point. My argument remains that choosing not to wear a poppy is not immoral and that there are many different ways to show your support. This is an important distinction I still don’t think you have mastered.

      My final point remains that if you want to make a visible statement of support by wearing a poppy, I think it means a lot more to wear it on selected days, i.e. Thursday and Sunday, than to wear it every day for the last three weeks. That dilutes the meaning and reduces the impact of the statement.

      If you want to support the troops in a less visible, but no less meaningful way, you should be allowed to do so without fear of persecution from those with similar attitudes to yourself.

    3. Cymro says:

      Recent General Election percentage of votes for the winning party (Labour):

      2005 35.2% — thus not representing 64.8% of the electorate
      2001 40% — thus not representing 60% of the electorate.

      When you add in the low turnout, and those ineligible to vote, they represented an even smaller part of the population. Do you call this a democracy? I don’t.

    4. adrian clarke says:

      Cymro , it is not my belief of what a true democracy is , yet you quote numbers of people who choose not to vote.Whereas under the system they do not have to but have the opportunity.That alone is democratic.You are quite right that the ruling party has not until now represented a majority of those that did vote.One could say that the coalition does do so,but personally i am not in favour of a coalition.That doesnt make the process undemocratic,but it could be said that any government under the party system is so .

  47. k eadleey says:

    The great war(W1) was billed as the war to end all wars,that should have been respected and then the last victims of war would be very old now.We could have done so much with the weapons money that exploded in death.That is a crime that makes the wearing of poppys so insignificant etc.War is hell.

    1. Cymro says:

      Quite. Like it or not, both World Wars will eventually become insignificant. Yes, really! On both Armistice Days (let’s face it, we have two now), do you ever hear anything about those injured or killed during the conflicts prior to WW1? The Boer War? The Crimean War? The Battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar? Do they not count? Evidently not. Centuries in the future, both World Wars will become just as irrelevant to every day society as the Battle of Hastings was. It’s likely that future conflicts won’t rely on big, expensive hardware, but more on incidents of terrorism and electronic and monetary warfare. In the year 2300 we might be remembering the only casualty of the Great Internet War of 2080, an army IT specialist who sprained his thumb on the keyboard, or she may have developed RSI from it.

      For the record, I lost family in WW1, and my grandfather was gassed in the trenches, but survived, though he eventually died of asthma in 1968. I think about him a great deal and how he suffered. But it doesn’t mean I should be emotionally incontinent and mourn in public and at a regimented place and time.

    2. adrian clarke says:

      In some respects Cymro you are correct.The main difference between the two world wars and the other conflicts are that they sought to maintain our way of life and freedoms.
      Success in both gave you and me the freedom to expound our views, and maintained the freedoms we enjoy in a free society

  48. JohnB says:

    Shame on Channel4 for not respecting the two minute silence at 11am today, all other major channels, BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Sky1 all observed the two minutes silence as a mark of respect. Shame on Channel4.

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      While your observance was presumably flitting from channel to channel to check other people’ observance :-)

    2. Cymro says:

      Why? I’m glad there’s at least one broadcaster who chooses not to do so, as not all of us wish to have remembrance stuffed down our throats. As it happens, at 11am I was out doing the shopping, dodging the traffic and the workmen busy building our one-way system. Shock horror, they didn’t stop!

      You should point some of your indignation in your own direction since you didn’t observe it yourself, did you?

  49. k eadleey says:

    To Cymro,The difference is that in the battle of Hastings thousands died around Hastings.In WW1 millions died from all over and all over the world.Someone stole the war memorial in St Stephens church yard Hampstead,sawn off at the ankles,I doubt its got any poppy’s on.Maybe the poppy police investigate.

    1. Cymro says:

      The vandalism of these war memorials is despicable It’s not helped by scrap metal merchants who’ll just take anything with no questions asked. In my part of the world we’re experiencing an epidemic of manhole covers being stolen on rural roads.

      But as for the relative numbers of deaths, I thought that the doctrine was that one life lost in battle was too many, so surely all battles and wars deserve an equal amount of respect given that servicemen died or were injured while fighting for their country?

  50. Cymro says:

    adrian clarke: “and maintained the freedoms we enjoy in a free society”

    Yes, precisely, that’s my point. It’s a free society, so if people choose not to wear a poppy or choose not to observe a two minutes’ silence at a prescribed time, then that’s their choice, and I really do wish some people in this country would respect that. If people want to do all of the above, again, that’s their choice.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Cymro,you must have been reading different comments to me and others, for the whole tone of the blog is that we are free to do as we wish.I have read no comment that says otherwise.
      The only difference of opinion is by a couple who say that us supporters of the poppy and Legion ,are undemocratic .How they come to that conclusion ,i am unsure unless it is a desire to make remembrance political

  51. 24 years service says:

    The argument is that people should be allowed to wear a poppy or not and if not, not be chastised.

    My argument is I see no reason not to wear one and if someone asked me why I didn’t have one I would apologise. Or if someone asked me to wear one I would immediately. I would not feel threatend or hurt. If this would hurt your feelings get a grip your acting like a little spoilt school girl. There are men and women dying and suffering and you ponse about worrying about someone asking you to wear a poppy. It’s pathetic. Grow up stop acting like a wuss.

  52. 24 years service says:

    As I have said before British servicemen and women represent our country they are sent on everyones behalf because the politicians who sent them were democraticaly elected. We elect politicians in fair democratic elections. They in turn make decisions for us and so send out troops to war. Therefore it’s not soldiers who decided therefore do not blame them. As they represent us yes all of of us we must support them the soldiers. They are our soldiers.
    Therefore we should all support them if they are wounded they did not choose to go to Iraq etc they were sent on our behalf therefore we all have a duty to support them through the poppy appeal. Which helps living servicemen and women and comemorates those who have died.
    There seems to me no reason why anyone would not want to wear a poppy it’s not political it does not mean you support war only you suport the care of soldiers injured in war who were sent by politicians democraticaly elected by the people of these isles.

    1. bdbcks says:

      we were told there was a “45 minute” threat from wmd. the power of words are strong, sometimes to the extent people are seduced into accepting the message without question.

      iraq is approx 3100 miles away from the uk.

      the only “wmd” that could reach the uk from iraq within 45 minutes would be a medium or long range intercontinental ballistic missile aka a duke nukem.

      if saddam had nukes don’t you think blair and co would have been singing from the rooftops about them?

      but no! we accepted “the 45 minute” wmd quote without much questioning. and lo and behold no wmd were found, apart from a few bits and bobs that absolutely couldn’t reach the uk within “45 minutes”.

      as for living in a democracy, it is increasingly becoming clearer and clearer it is in fact a very clever illusory performance where 3 sides of the same shape perpetuate divide and conquer by arguing and pointing the finger of blame at each other. it is all a grand charade, but thankfully more and more people are opening their eyes and questioning what politicians spout.

      wear a poppy? like i said earlier, symbolically it is a bullet wound weeping blood.

      banknotes don’t bleed.

  53. Dave says:

    You need to get a grip yourself! If people are wearing it because of an obligation imposed on them by others like you, all they are actually doing is wearing a poppy to placate you, it shows nothing about whether or not they care about the soldiers, only that they care what people like YOU think.

    Just stop, think about it for a minute, and then carry on.

    Ludicrous and ridiculous!

  54. Elizabeth Whittaker says:

    Jon Snow has a right to choose whether or not he wants to wear a poppy. Simple.

    The poppy has come to represent British soldiers who are serving around the world in the present day as well as in the past therefore people now wear it for various reasons.

    British soldiers have a difficult job, but just because their job is difficult doesn’t mean that their job is always right. They’ve killed a lot of innocent people in their time so I think it’s perfectly acceptable to decide not to wear the poppy because you don’t agree with what they fight against or for.

    Top marks to Jon Snow for sticking to his principles and exercising his freedom of choice.

  55. adi wilson says:

    As a Journalist and an organisation that supports journalism and freedom of speech I hope Jon snow will be moved off the news as the only reason why he is there is because 1 million UK people have given their lives and countless more injured for him to have freedom of speech. Either wear it with Pride or live in China a simple choice!

    Or perhaps this should be written in German.

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