The poppies at the Tower of London – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – have drawn crowds in their millions and proved a powerful and moving memorial to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. But no sooner was the last poppy planted than the first poppies started to be taken down. Some have called for the display to stay longer and others have suggested that at least parts should find a permanent home. Yet the temporary nature of this installation is part of its essence.
Poppies are such fragile flowers and similarly these ceramic flowers have their own fragility. It is such a powerful thing that we choose something so fragile as our symbol of remembering. All the effort in planning and putting together this installation will all too quickly come to an end. And surely that is frighteningly appropriate echoing lives so loving nurtured and treasured too soon cut down in the hell of war.
Lasting remembrance does not depend on us enshrining these ceramic poppies but rather in striving to ensure that such carnage can never be repeated. We honour the memory of those who died by re-committing ourselves to the cause of peace and justice – a tender flower which, if it is to flourish in the harsh winds of this world, will need all the nurture and care we can provide.