She was only a young girl,
Or was to me at my age,
Standing in the City Square
Quivering with her rage.
She had shaken her tin before me,
Looked aghast at my polite firm no,
Then placed herself before me
So I could not easily go.
She was selling Flanders Poppies
For the approaching Remembrance day
So I let this kind young person
Have her angry say.
I told her I never wear a Poppy this or any other year
I didn't lose my temper because she was sincere.
I explained about the call of duty; how the forces offer their lives
And the least we can offer is care for families and wives:
But a grateful nation has short memory and once a conflict is done
They quickly put it from their mind whether lost drawn or won.
They forget about the price the casualties paid
Or the ultimate sacrifice that the dead have made.
Then the nation pays a pittance, the very least it can,
To dependents left or to any disabled serviceman.
Charity is poor provision, is an insult what's more
For those who gave so much to fight a nation's war.
So I never wear a poppy, never condone what is cheap
About the way we treat those left piled on war's scrap heap.
I thanked her for her attention
Explained many I knew felt like me.
We exercise our right of dissent
In this land of the brave and the free.
I left her looking a little chastened
Maybe a little wiser and maybe more aware
Unselfish sacrifice is demeaned
Afterwards when nobody really cares.