There has been a lot of heat generated about the New Zealand Peace Movement’s selling of white “peace” poppies just before the red poppy collection on Anzac Day. I do not consider it inappropriate that the peace movement use the same symbolic day to generate funds as the Veteran’s Association. After all, peace is exactly what those soldiers bought – at a terrible price.
It seems to me, however, that we forget that, while it is the sacrifices of soldiers that have bought us peace, it is the very presence of soldiers that maintains it. There are too many dangerous dictators in the world who need little excuse to conquer other nations and destroy their freedoms. Bush was ridiculed for saying “they hate our freedoms” of islamic militants, but, stripped of its Texan gaucheness, Bush’s statement is bang on. There are indeed people out there who want to extend their control over our lives – and some of them have armies and are ready to use them. I think we forget this reality too readily.
So while I think it is important that we do remember the dead of past wars and honour their names, we should remember that what they fought for is always in danger of being lost and that the white poppy is only safe because it is surrounded by red.