The Tower of London poppies should be dispersed as planned

I went to the Tower of London last weekend to see the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation and found it to be a profoundly moving experience. I understand why some people think that it would be a good idea for them to remain in place for longer. It is an awe-inspiring sight. However, I think that the calls from politicians of all persuasions for the poppies to remain in place after Armistice Day are misguided.

Poppies at the Tower, 01-11-2014It’s the transient nature of the art – the process of the slow accumulation in the moat of the poppies since 5th August and their dispersal after the 11th November – that gives the display its emotional power, providing a fitting tribute to the 888,246 British and Commonwealth soldiers, men and women, who died during the First World War.

For me, the dispersal of the poppies to individuals after the 11th will make the most important statement of all. It should remind us that while it’s essential for everyone to pull together in times of national crises, dealing with the loss and grief that follows these events is ultimately an intensely personal and private affair.

I’m therefore concerned that allowing the poppies to remain after the 11th would compromise the integrity of what has been an incredibly moving and valuable act of remembrance.

 

5 comments

  • I see your point (and that of the artist) but it does mean that more people will get to be moved by the experience as you have been. The wars changed our lives forever, it’s important that younger generations understand the sacrifices that were made for their freedom.
    The artist wanted it to be there for a “finite time. as we are” but most of us will be forgotten in time whereas we as a nation must never forget our war dead. If extending this memorial helps to educate more people, then I’m in favour of it.

    • tim

      Thank you for your comment – it’s a really well made point and one I understand. I think that the idea of leaving a couple of the key features in place until the end of November, agreed after I wrote this, is good, as is the plan to tour them around the country so that even more people can see them.

      We’ve come a long way since the debates and concerns I remember from the 70s – at that time, the number of people attending Remembrance Day parades was declining dramatically and some people were suggesting that they were no longer needed! However, the dispersal of the poppies will also help to educate – the shock of them going will also remind people of the loss caused by war I think. We should always remember our dead, but never give up on finding ways to try to eliminate war.

  • TRTnursing (@TRTnursing)

    We always want to hang on and hang on to things (me included)… as if hanging on could somehow make things last longer (and, subconsciously, push back the hands of time and its march to death?).
    I agree with you. Let it have its ephemeral moment and journey on.
    Then, I’d like to see them plant real vegetable gardens there like they did in WWI ! (Tee hee, this is actually my own hidden agenda…)

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