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Why Do So Few Immigrants Wear Poppies for UK’s Remembrance Day?

If part of the British population rejects one of the country’s most sacred traditions, how can we ever “integrate”?

by
Carol Gould

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November 11, 2009 - 12:57 am
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Every year as Remembrance Day approaches, I bemoan the lamentable lack of interest in the great traditions of this country shown by Britain’s immigrant population.

In the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day, I have noticed that I am not the only person wearing a poppy when I board a bus or tube train in London. Though the young are being brainwashed by the media in a society that has become increasingly secular and that celebrates the brand of political correctness that includes disdain for the military, to my delight this year I have noticed that a new generation is joining in this tradition. Sadly, this is still not the case with our large immigrant or second-generation population. When young British soldiers marched in Luton, England, earlier this year, they were booed and jeered by placard-wielding Muslim extremists branding them butchers. (Imagine how far a group of British men would get jeering the native soldiers in Damascus or Tripoli!)

As the brave British, American, and other Allied men who fought for us to be spared the Thousand-Year Reich die off at a rate of 1,500 a day, it is vital we do not forget their sacrifice and that immigrants wake up to the importance of honoring those whose sacrifice has made it possible for them to prosper in Europe and the UK. On October 9, 2009, Her Majesty the Queen led a service at St. Pauls Cathedral to honor the British forces who have served in Iraq. On Sunday, October 25, 1,500 D-Day veterans were honored at Westminster Abbey. It got little coverage, but by Jove, to me it was an important commemoration. The sea of poppies on the lapels of those attending was a reminder of the tens of thousands of service personnel left behind under the soil of Europe.

In November 2006 Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wrote a remarkable editorial in the Evening Standard in which she expressed her shame at having refused to wear a poppy the year before. In the intervening year she had met ethnic minority war veterans who were particularly hurt by her impetuous attitude. (She had returned her MBE to protest the war policy of the British government. As an immigrant myself, I would drop dead with pride to be awarded any honor by the queen.) To my surprise, in 2006 Alibhai-Brown asserted she would thenceforth wear a poppy and set aside her anti-war sentiments, which she now felt were secondary to the tribute the nation must pay to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our democratic values. When I arrived in the United Kingdom thirty-four years ago, I was so touched by this tradition that I made sure to buy one from a Royal British Legion volunteer as soon as November rolled around.

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