A university has come under attack for including white poppies in its Remembrance wreaths because veterans fear it will depreciate the red poppy as a representation of the fallen.
Students and staff from Leicester University laid more than 50 poppy garlands across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in recognition of the local people who made sacrifices during the First World War.
The wreaths which were laid as part of a poppy pilgrimage included both red and white poppies.
The university said the garlands included white poppies to signify a commitment to peace and finding non-violent solutions to conflicts.
It comes after the BBC said it would allow its presenters to wear white poppies on-air if they wanted to do so, and in a statement, the university said that the red poppy, which remembers the horrors of the Western Front in the First World War, is a well known and well-established symbol of support for the Armed Forces community and Remembrance for lives lost in all conflicts.
And they said that some of the wreaths laid in the region included white poppies, which represented a commitment to peace in finding non-violent solutions to conflicts, but military figures have condemned the decision to include white poppies and that it’s an insult to those who lost their lives in battle.
Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, told a newspaper outlet that the white poppy was designed to undermine the sacrifice the red poppy seeks to commemorate.
He said the use of the red poppy was a means of showing respect and appreciation to British and Allied troops who gave their lives fighting for their country and was completely apolitical.
Richard Kempt said it was sold to raise funds for their propaganda campaigns and that it purports to commemorate all who suffered in war and so applies equally to Nazi stormtroopers and Islamic State murderers and rapists.
He said intertwining the hard-left political symbol of white poppies into wreaths of red poppies was a direct affront to our war dead.
Lord Richard Dannatt, former chief of the General Staff, told the newspaper there was room to remember the sacrifice of noncombatants in wartime but that the use of the white poppy would detract from the remembrance of soldiers that had fallen in defence of their country.
You can’t just change symbolic things that represent a generation that got us through some incredibly difficult times – times they have zero knowledge of and honestly wouldn’t cope if they had to.
However, men have been falling out there in Afghanistan and comparable places and should be remembered as well. Perhaps a different flower and a different colour for those that also served and lost their lives.
Generally, I don’t wear a poppy because I don’t need to wear a bit of paper once a year to show that I care, and it’s not just about World War I and World War II. We also have to remember all fallen servicemen in all conflicts like Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, and Iraq to name a few.
I’m not in favour of war by any means, but we do need to remember our fallen soldiers, and how we should really be remembering them is in our schools where it should be taught in history lessons. It’s okay wearing a poppy as long as you know why you’re wearing it!