Every year, the Poppy Appeal in the village where I live is organised by a woman down my road.
She tends starts her planning in August – ordering a variety of poppies, drumming up volunteers and putting together her publicity. The final fundraising total and paperwork are probably concluded by early December.
The rest of us ‘remember’ for only a week or so; we put our money in the tin and wear our poppy with pride until Remembrance Sunday or perhaps Armistice Day.
I bought my poppy at the end of October, and this year went for one of those lovely pins marking 100 years (although today swapped it for a traditional paper poppy, stabbing pins and all). I had a debate with a colleague over which way the leaf should point and should it be worn on the left or the right. But as the Royal British Legion say, how you wear it doesn’t matter, as long as you wear it.
It’s an emotive time of year; TV news channels and Facebook timelines are filled with images and stories that are both humbling and thought provoking. But social media, like TV, is transient and tomorrow the headlines will be about something else. We will have forgotten.
The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, however, never forgets. It is the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance, a breath-taking, spectacular, 150 acres of tranquillity, beauty and peace. Here, more than 300 memorials, each with a story to tell, are a constantly growing tribute to those who have served and continue to serve our country.
As the two-minute silence was observed across the UK to remember the nation’s war dead, the Princess Royal was in attendance at the Staffordshire memorial. And as I do every year, I made the pledge to put a visit on my ‘must-do’ list.
In the grand scheme of things though, it doesn’t really matter – the important thing is that, however we choose to mark the day, we make sure that we never forget.