Blackwall & Cubitt Town Cllr, Peter Golds on the true meaning of the Poppy Appeal


- Credit: Archant

Once again with the Poppy Appeal the decency of the British people was shown time and time again to those of us who rattled tins collecting money on behalf of Royal British Legion. The reputation and support for our armed forces seems to increase year by year. Just, as the reputation of politicians, the media, law and the financial system relatively decreases.

The borough remembrance at Tower Hamlets takes place in one of the saddest yet uplifting of all memorial venues. This is the Tower Hill memorial to the 43,000 named seamen who gave their lives in the merchant fleets during armed conflicts. In both World Wars of the 20th century it was the merchant fleets that helped save this country from starvation, during the German blockades.

On the memorial not only names are given, but also ages. Up to the mid 1940s 14-year-olds could enlist in the Merchant Navy, many did and many lost their lives. Lives lost when they could have been at school.

Whether it be the journeys around the Capes, the Atlantic Conveys or the Baltic fleets, men who, in the modern era, would be regarded as children, performed acts of extraordinary heroism.

Not on the battlefield, but helping to ensure that food and essentials came back home to their fellow citizens.

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It is in this context that this perception filters through the generations and how many young people, some very young, give so generously each year for their poppies.

Sadly that generosity of spirit was not shown by the Tower Hamlets Executive Mayor who turned up late for the ceremony and then barged in front of the official wreath layers.

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For the hundreds of members of the public who were present for the start of the ceremony the words: “They shall not grow old as we grow old,” remain as relevant as ever.

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