IT GETS me every year. It is such a simple gesture, an under-stated emblem and one which needs no explanation.
And yet the humble poppy, which is worn with pride up and down the country in the run up to Remembrance Sunday, speaks volumes.
I was lucky enough to visit the battlefields of France and Belgium four years ago with my dad and my sons, following in the footsteps of my grandfather who fought with the 9th (Scottish) Division. We visited such famous sites as the Somme, Arras, Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge, to name but a few, where the stark headstones - row after row of them - were unimaginable.
We also visited Delville Wood where we took part in a memorial service at the South African National Memorial. My grandfather was one of only 142 who survived the battle, so, quite frankly, I shouldn’t be here.
Major John McCrae’s words “In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row” beautifully capture the brilliant red poppies which now pepper the battlefields; they are such a fitting reminder of those who didn’t come home.
Approximately 40 million poppies, 38,000 wreaths and 350,000 remembrance crosses are distributed each year - incredible!
As I write, the nation is preparing to observe two minute’s silence on Sunday morning. Again, another simple gesture that speaks volumes.