What are the poppies saying?

I am one of the many thousands of people who have visited the poppy art installation around the Tower of London. It was beautiful – but unlike many who have seen it I was not moved to think of all the thousands who died in the first world war. I have great sympathy with the actress Sheila Hancock who has suggested driving a tank over all the flowers in order to truly symbolise the brokenness and destruction of war. Part of the dffculty is the use of the tower of London, a place that is alive with its own bloody history. ┬áIt feels anachronistic when compared to the fields of warfare where so many died. a spread of poppies across a big public space such as Hyde Park would have held more appropriate symbolism. Over the years remembrance is always mixed with sentimentality, sometimes it is sentiment that takes over. This year we have perhaps allowed that to happen. Our remembering must always be mixed with sharp questions about war and our role as a nation in conflicts past and present. My father, in the early stages of dementia weeps for the lovely young uncle he played with as a toddler who, one night, flew on a bombing raid and disappeared. Less tangible than the sadness that now feels immediate, but still troubling him, is the knowledge that such personal loss was brought about by taking part in bombing that killed thousands of civilians. Sentiment plays no part in such contradictions. If we are to seek peace we must not forget, but we also need to be careful how and what we remember.