Friday, 11 November 2011


Yesterday I talked about taking a minute, and today most of us took 2 minutes.
So what were you doing on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 2011?
Did you wear a poppy, did you observe the 2 minutes silence? If so, do you know what it meant, what it stood for? When you see a poppy at other times of the year, does it trigger an inner meaning to you?

For me, I found myself thinking back to all the different points in my life, and what I was doing and where I was on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. I found that my experiences ranged from standing on a very cold parade ground feeling my wedgewood shirt crunching and hoping my hair was in place or I would be in trouble, to feeling very nervous being as a flag bearer, earlier years as a brownie left in charge to place the wreath on a memorial , as a teacher educating primary children about poppy day, as a parent hearing my son fluently giving me a potted history of what it means and why. In all cases, regardless of where I was or what I was doing, I had an image in my mind, the fallen men and women, the muddy fields and the poppies growing in the fields years after and in my time, friends who have served and lost their lives.  

At 11am this morning everything went silent, not dis-similar to the Blackadder sketch as they go over and the encapsulated silence at the end where the poppies appear  Classic FM had their news at 3 minutes to the hour, and then silence, eerily as if the world had stopped.  The workmen nearby turned their radio off and just stood silently, I couldn’t even hear the traffic  in the distance although I am sure there was plenty! All I could hear were the birds, the leaves rustling and my daughter feeding.  Looking down at my daughter I wondered what it would mean to her in years to come?  At 9 weeks old she currently has no idea about this moment in time that is observed. Where will she be on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the future?  Will she too look back marking this moment in time throughout her life?

This year 11.11.11 has been in the paper a lot, sadly not to observe the fallen in WW1, WW2 and more recent conflicts. Instead, the contentious issue of wearing the poppies has dominated with  some shops requesting staff not to wear the poppy deeming it a ‘sectarian flower’ and it may upset someone.  Likewise, the issue of football teams hitting the headlines and the u-turn after public and well known outcry.  I often wander off on a tangent getting lost in thought, but I found myself wondering, how many times do we hear of ‘freedom’  and ‘rights’ yet certain symbols, emblems and dress are restricted or banned? How does this work? I do not have the answers, but it certainly makes you stop and think. 

For all the people that have died and made sacrifices be it poppy day or otherwise, just how free are we?

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