I’ve just taken delivery of the Remembrance wreath that I will lay, on behalf of the Parish and alongside many others, on Remembrance Day. Remembrance is important. In these times more perhaps than at any other time in my life, the honouring of the fight against fascism and the survival of freedoms we take so for granted should be celebrated. But I’ve got a box full of plastic here. A black plastic ring with red nylon (plastic) poppies on it. And I’m wondering if this is appropriate.
Our Clerk is already seeking a more environmentally friendly wreath for next year. We’ll still make the same donation to the Royal British Legion, I’m sure, but perhaps we won’t need the wreath. On the other hand, in previous years we tried saving the wreath – cleaning it of the roadside traffic grime and making it new again – but the RBL suggested we were wrong to do so. What would they think of a completely different, non-RBL, one?
The Poppy Factory made over six million poppies last year, and 146,000 of these wreaths. It’s made them since 1922 and employs about thirty mostly “wounded, injured and sick” ex-services people. To step away from their work is also to end the support of this long standing organisation.
It is a sensitive and political issue. To go off at a tangent, to be different, is not always acceptable. But my Parish Council declared a climate and ecological emergency some time back, and it is equally unacceptable to do what we’ve always done because we’ve always done it that way.
We let our poppy wreaths remain on the village war memorial for a good half of the year, taking them down sometime around Beltane. It feels right to give them that half a year – showing our honouring of the fallen, but leaving enough space that the return of the poppies is noticeable too. Any environmentally replacement will have to withstand the winter and still look acceptably good well into spring.
I’m sure we are not the only organisation looking into this issue. I would be interested in comments from anyone on the same trajectory, particularly if they’ve found what they feel to be a solution. I’m going to contact The Poppy Factory for their side of this issue. I’ll return to this subject again, if and when we come to a decision on next year’s Remembrance wreath.
Header image courtesy of The Wotton Times