Remembering our war dead - Wearing the poppy

“The heroic dead of Ireland have every right to the homage of the living.”

Remembering our war dead - Wearing the poppy

Those are the words of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Commander of Allied troops in the First World War, paying tribute to the Irish who fought and died in battle in France.

They are etched in stone at the base of a memorial donated by the French government and unveiled yesterday at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

They are a reminder of the sacrifice made by thousands of Irishmen, a sacrifice that should never be forgotten, but one that many of us still have reservations about recognising.

In the UK, the US, Canada, and elsewhere, the way of doing it is by wearing poppies, a field of which in 1915 inspired Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae to write the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. They are worn with pride in the North but rarely, if ever, in the south, where many of us regard it as a symbol of British imperialism. But there is no reason why even the most ardent nationalists should not adopt the poppy symbol and wear it on Remembrance Sunday while, perhaps, wearing an Easter Lily on Easter Sunday.

Among those who perished in the war were the thousands of Irish soldiers from north and south killed during the Battle of the Somme, which ended 100 years ago this month.

They, along with all the other Irish who died in the First World War, still deserve our homage.

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