On Sunday I attended Arundel's Remembrance ceremony at the War Memorial in the town square. I find the words "they shall grow not old ..." intensely moving.
It is sobering to think that, as the nation remembered, four British servicemen were killed and three others were seriously injured in Iraq. The current conflict might be more contentious than the world wars, but I profoundly disagree with the idea of a white poppy to signify opposition to war.
The campaign promoting this says some very silly things indeed, including that "Britain" is a "highly charged word", and that Remembrance Sunday legitimises war. Worse, it contends that "for some Remembrance Day is ... a chance to relive the good old days when bombs were falling and some 50 million people were killed". This is almost as revolting as the defacement of Worthing's war memorial last week with Nazi symbols.
The red poppy does not legitimise war. The millions who wear it do so because we want to pay tribute to those who died. We aren't making a statement about the rights and wrongs of a conflict.
No doubt many who wore the red poppy last week opposed the current Iraq conflict - but that did not stop them paying respect to the brave soldiers who have died there while doing their duty.
I was equally frustrated by the newsreader Jon Snow's refusal to wear a red poppy on Channel 4. His excuse that newsreaders should not make statements might have had some credibility if he had not previously insisted on wearing a "Make Poverty History" wristband on the grounds that this was "beyond contention".
What humbug. Remembering those who give their lives for their country is truly beyond contention. Thank goodness that the decent majority continues to wear the red poppy and pay silent respect on this special day.