- 1914-1918
- story of the red poppy
- story of the white poppy
- here and now

- more about white poppies


The decade from 2001 is the United Nations' International Decade for the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. The Peace Pledge Union has focused on the white poppy as part of its campaign for that 'Culture of Peace': the white poppy helps to break the silence which 'perpetuates the delusion that war, and preparing for war, can bring about peace'.

The children of the world have had a raw deal. Their fighting fathers, uncles, older brothers have been killed in war for many centuries. In the 20th century millions of children (2 million in the last decade of the century alone) were victims of total war, in which whole families have been bombed, murdered or driven from their homes. They have faced early death from illness and starvation caused by war. They have been maimed by unexploded bombs, landmines and brutal soldiers. They have even been forced to become soldiers themselves. Some children are encouraged, by the attitudes of adults around them, to join in civilian demonstrations of violence. It is hard for many of us to see how war can ever be justified, for the harm it does to children alone.

For reasons like these, people wear white poppies on Remembrance Day, and work in their different ways for a world in which children learn what war is only from their history lessons.


DISCUSS: Find out more about what happens on Remembrance Day (you can see it on TV). Talk about it, and decide what you would like to happen in the future on a day regularly put aside for thinking about how to build peace and get rid of war.

THINK: Everyone says they want the world to be peaceful, but there are plenty of places where it isn't. What are we doing wrong? What could we do that is right?

DO: Make a poster for peace. Make up a song for peace (with your own new tune or one you all know), and play and sing it together.

The war officially ended at 11.00 am on November 11, 1918 (Armistice Day). As the same date approached in 1919, a recently returned High Commissioner told the British prime minister how during the war people in South African had stopped what they were doing for a few minutes at noon every day, to think seriously about the war and what it meant. The prime minister liked the idea of a countrywide silence as a sign of respect. So the newspapers published a request from King George V that 'at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month' people all over the country should pause for two minutes to remember in silence the British soldiers who had been killed in the war. The Daily Express said, 'it is our duty to see that they did not die in vain: there must be a truce in domestic quarrels, an end to industrial strife'. But the Daily Herald said, 'Swear to yourself this day at 11 o'clock that never again shall the peace and happiness of the world fall into the murderous hands of a few cynical old men'.

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