The Daily Telegraph
Lest we forget
Sir – Tom Mckenzie (Letters, November 12) was stunned by the paucity of poppy sellers in London.
When I first started selling poppies in 1986, I was joined on the streets by veterans of the Second World War and Korea. Twenty years later, I was joined by their widows, and some streets had to be missed out. Today, all are gone or simply too frail to stand in frost and rain for an hour, and nobody is taking their place.
Quite simply, with most of us entirely untouched by war or interested only in the socio-political cause du jour, we are – despite our noble words – forgetting the men of Flanders Fields, Sword Beach, Kohima, Imjin, Enniskillen, Fitzroy, and Kajaki; they are faceless people from other times, whom – let’s be frank – we want to forget about. As Kipling would remind us, we have been here before: we forget until we discover, usually too late, that we need our soldiers again.
This is why, for all the bluster, the political parties should unite in protecting Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday as national events of fundamental importance. Sometimes we need to be reminded to remember, and to contemplate the fact that those who shout the loudest do not speak for us or our silent dead.
As for taking action, the best thing Mr Mckenzie could do next year is pick up a tin and a tray and join us – and bring along some friends.
Matlock Bath, Derbyshire
Sir – In my area of the country, the poppy sellers were offering several types.
There was the larger vehicle poppy, the traditional paper and pin version, and a very practical plastic one that could be clipped to a zip (like a dog lead).
Furthermore, the seller had a card-reader machine so there was the option to pay in cash or donate £2, £3 or £5 by card. The British Legion is moving with the times.