Three Faces of War – Very Special Forces
It Takes Heroism To Fight A War. But Even More Courage Not To.
On this day in 1918 – the eleventh day of the eleventh month, at the 11th hour – the hostilities of the First World War formally ended.
This is Remembrance Day, aka Poppy Day. But why poppies?
Well, contrary to popular belief, poppies have been associated with war since at least Napoleonic times, when a writer first noted how poppies grew over the graves of soldiers. It is theorized that the damage done to the landscape in Flanders during WW1 greatly increased the lime content in the soil, leaving the poppy as one of the few plants capable of surviving.
At the war’s conclusion, it was an American professor who first suggested that wearing a red poppy year-round would fittingly honour the war’s fallen. Soon, the red silk poppy had been adopted as an official symbol of remembrance by the American Legion.
And then the idea spread to Britain, where Field Marshal Douglas Haig – the “Butcher of the Somme” – used the motif to promote The Royal British Legion, which he co-founded.
And yet, the poppy symbol still remains an enigma.
What we are actually celebrating, or remembering, when we buy one?
Is it the glory of war? Or its poignancy? Are we remembering selfless heroism? Or the futility of human conflict?
Our guest tonight, Ben Griffin, has clear views on this.
Ben is no ordinary foot soldier.
As a member of Britain’s elite special forces, the SAS, Ben has served his country in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Baghdad.
Ben is eloquent, lucid and deeply moving. If you want to know what it is actually like to fight a war in the 21st century, listen to this show.
Ben’s organisation, Veterans for Peace, can be contacted here.
Photo by Andrew Hill