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.
It’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.