2nd Lt Wilfred Owen MC (1893-1918), War Poet, Soldier, awarded the Military Cross

‘Haven’t you got the wits to keep out of this?’

For those with an interest in public speaking or personal development.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (and on the 2nd Sunday in November), Britain stops to remember its war dead.

Since 1921, the scarlet poppy has been worn in the lapels of Britons to acknowledge these losses, and to provide funds for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. These funds are used to help veterans and their families.

However, there is also a white poppy. After the Great War, the white poppy was used as an alternative to, or to complement, the red poppy. The white poppy is used not only to remember war casualties, but as a symbol of peace.

Since 1934 and against a backdrop of rumbling Nazism on mainland Europe, the Peace Pledge Union has distributed white poppies with a pledge to ‘… work for the removal of all causes of war’.

We should never forget war, nor the causes of it.

And that is why I love the Great War poets’ work, especially Wilfred Owen and his fellow soldier, poet and mentor, Siegfried Sassoon. Because, not only were these men brave in the military field, they were brave to highlight the horror of war while in service. Their poetry used vivid imagery to portray the horror of the Western Front.

Indeed when writing to Siegfried Sassoon, September 1918, Wilfred Owen wrote: ‘This is what the shells scream at me every time: “Haven’t you got the wits to keep out of this?”’.

Sadly, Wilfred Owen died 1 week before Armistice Day, 1918. And, heartbreakingly, his parents received a telegram notifying them of their son’s death on the 11th November 1918, as the church bells rang out for peace across Britain.

Whether your poppy is red, white or both. Wear it with pride. We must never forget war, the causes of war, or the devastating effect it has on humans.


With love

Ms Kim Crosby
Managing Director
Public Speaking Matters

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