Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Sunday

click photo to enlarge
An unpleasant brouhaha has blown up in the UK over the refusal of a prominent TV newsreader to wear a British Legion poppy. These small paper and plastic flowers, available in the fortnight or so before Remembrance Sunday (the first Sunday after 11th November), are given to individuals in return for a monetary donation. Schools, groups, workplaces, shops, and organisations associated with the armed forces sell the poppies on behalf of the British Legion who use the money to help ex-service people and their dependants.

The newsreader in question, patiently and properly, and then, under pressure, tetchily, explained that he was assailed by many organisations asking him to wear their badge, ribbon, sticker, etc, and, as a matter of principle, declined all requests. Consequently he didn't wear a poppy on air. However, he explained, he did wear one in his private life, and did pay his tribute on Remembrance Day. Interestingly, none of the the many adverse, hectoring, even bitter and vindictive comments he received, came from the British Legion. Their dignified response was to say that wearing a poppy was an entirely voluntary gesture, and the newsreader was entitled to his opinion. In that statement - a defence of freedom of thought and action - they eloquently and pointedly reminded us of the purpose of our armed forces, and why we should value and support them.

I took this photograph of St James' church, Haslingden, on Remembrance Sunday 2005. As I approached the building the morning service had just ended and the brass band was spilling out of the south porch, a scarlet, black and silver ribbon, streaming down the churchyard path, heading off to lead a procession through the town. I quickly framed the shot, pressed the shutter, and the camera did the rest. However, the zoom at 28mm (35 mm equivalent) produced massively converging verticals, and correction of these was necessary to bring the image back to what I saw. Though it was a grabbed shot, I'm quite pleased with the composition.

Oh, and for anyone who is wondering, yes, every year I do buy and wear a poppy, and remember all those - in the armed forces and civilian life - who made the ultimate sacrifice.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen