Opinion: The poppy celebrates 100 years and why we should never forget

For the last 100 years we’ve worn poppies in remembrance of all those who died in service of their country.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 11th November 2021, 10:05 am

Sadly, since 1921 when the first poppies were sold and worn in memory of all those who were casualties in what was known as the Great War, there have been many more deaths amongst the soldiers, sailors and airmen and women of our armed forces.

This year marks the centenary of the first Poppy Appeal which saw nine million poppies sold to raise funds for the welfare of ex-servicemen. It raised £106,000 to help veterans with housing and jobs, a considerable sum in those days.

However, it appears such was the demand very few reached Scotland so in 1926 Lady Dorothy Haig, wife of Earl Haig, the founder of the Royal British Legion, established a factory in Edinburgh to make poppies exclusively for sale in Scotland.

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Today, over two million poppies and 10,000 wreaths are still made by hand by disabled ex-servicemen and women and distributed by the RBL’s sister charity Poppyscotland.

The Scottish poppies are distinct with their four petals and no green leaf, unlike those sold elsewhere in the UK.

Last year, like so many things, the Poppy Appeal and the very act of remembrance was affected by the Covid pandemic.

Services could not take place at cenotaphs and war memorials around the country, and volunteers were unable to sell poppies and carry out collections in the street, leading to a drop in income for the charity.

However, in 2021 parades and services to remember the fallen are once again taking place in accordance with government guidelines.

While today (Thursday) we will pause to remember those who made the greatest sacrifice at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, many more formal events will take place three days later on Remembrance Sunday.

But while we remember those who gave up their lives, don’t forget to buy your poppy or make a donation to Poppyscotland because that will help support those who continue to bear the scars, both physically and mentally, of their time in service, not only to this country but for us all.

Lest we forget.

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