The enduring power of images logos and symbols
David Brooks 11.11.2016
It is not just commercial brands that recognise the power of an image, logo or symbol to re-inforce loyalty to their products. But who would have thought that the poppy emblem could be considered a political statement?
And who would have imagined that an organisation like the international football association of all people would rule that players in the England v Scotland international taking place on 11th November should be banned from wearing a poppy on their shirts. Leave aside the alleged web of corruption that the world's footballing bosses have created in their own affairs which must give little credibility to this particular edict and think about the reasons why the poppy is so powerful a symbol. Football is a big money sport. Some years ago we provided the on-shirt branding artwork for a newly promoted Premier League club. I don't recall the detail or the sponsor, but the concern was very much about size! But Remembrance Day is a time for just that - remembrance, where we stop for a minute of silence. Anyone who has attended a major football game will testify to the sudden and complete silence observed by an otherwise noisy crowd of tens of thousands. Although stopping at 11 am on the 11th day of November owes its origins to the end of the First World War today we think about casualties from both the world wars and casualties in more recent conflicts. And interestingly today the event is probably marked by more people than it was twenty or thirty years ago. November is often a cold damp month which we dubbed the 'Shiver Parade' when assembled around the local war memorial on the nearest Sunday to the 11th.
The poppy has come to symbolise all of this and more in a very powerful way. We were fortunate in our family that none of my grandfather's or father's generation who served in WW1 and WW2 incurred casualties. They were termed as 'volunteers' which was a generous interpretation of the meaning of the word suggesting as it does there was some other option. My grandfather some how survived the front line trenches of WW1. My father was recruited to the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War. And conflict still goes on. My own children have opted for service careers.
This Friday we shall be thinking of those still serving in active roles not just those from the past, including an RAF officer serving somewhere in the world united by the wearing of the poppy wherever we are.
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