Remembrance Sunday: The White Poppy – Object of the Fortnight 28/10/2013

THE WHITE POPPY AND THE PEACE PLEDGE UNION Sunday 10th November is Remembrance Sunday. In recent years, there has been much controversy surrounding the red poppy. The white poppy has also stirred controversy during its time. The white poppy, like the red poppy, commemorates the men and women who have died in service. However, the white poppy also commemorates the civilians on both sides who have died during conflicts and pledges peace. It is not the anti-war message that causes controversy but the belief by some critics state it ‘undermines’ the remembrance message and that money raised through the sale of white poppies takes money away from the Royal British Legion who sell the red poppies. Ironically when white poppies were first sold in 1933, they were sold by the Women’s Co-operative Guild alongside the Royal British Legion’s red poppy appeal.  The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) have distributed white poppies since 1934. The PPU are a pacifist organisation that was established 1934. Their manifesto, a copy of which we have in our collection, clearly states each members’ pledge and the organisation’s message: “We renounce war and will never support or sanction another”. The organisation still exists today continuing the anti-war message through campaigns, protests and educational work. Peace Pledge Union manifesto (1938) In the 1930s, the white poppy quickly became a bone of contention and some women who choose to wear a white poppy were sacked from their jobs. The white poppies came under-fire again in the 1980s. The Bishop of Salisbury, John Baker, in 1986 when asked about the appropriateness of the white poppy said “let’s not be hurt if we see a white poppy…there is plenty of space for red and white to bloom side by side”. Margaret Thatcher however felt “deep distaste” for the white poppy. It was never the intention of the Women’s Co-operative Guild or Peace Pledge Union to create controversy, on the contrary the white poppy was created as a symbol of hope no more wars will take place. Which poppy will you wear this year for Remembrance Sunday? Red or white? The Peace Museum sells white poppies for £1 on behalf of the Peace Pledge Union – please visit or contact us to purchase one. White poppies  

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