The meaning behind white poppies and why some people wear them

Every year in the run-up to Memorial Day, millions of people across the country wear red poppies to commemorate the service personnel killed on duty.

The red poppy is a ubiquitous sight from late October to mid-November. However, it is Royal British Legion insists that whether or not to wear one is a personal choice.

Some people choose to wear other colors of poppy instead – particularly the white poppy, which is also seen this time of year. But what is it and what does it mean?

READ MORE: Which Side Should You Wear a Poppy On?

What are white poppies and why do some people wear them?

White poppies are worn around Memorial Day to pay tribute to all those who died in war – including civilians – or simply as an anti-war gesture.

They are sold by the Peace Pledge Union, which sells around 100,000 white poppies each year. They are available through the Peace Pledge Union website and from others Sockets.

Symon Hill, campaign manager for the Peace Pledge Union, explains: “White poppies are primarily a symbol of remembrance – for all war victims, both military and civilian, and stands for a commitment to peace.”

“White poppies recognize the horrors of war and the need to work for peace,” he added.

First introduced in 1933 by the women’s cooperative guild, the white poppy is intended to counteract the glorification of war and to draw attention to the extent of the victims through conflict.

Actor Mark Rylance, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and rapper Lowkey are among those who supported the white poppy campaign.

Although some people vehemently oppose wearing white poppies, the Royal British Legion says they have no objection to people wearing any color of poppy they choose.

What do the other colors of poppy seeds mean?

In addition to red and white poppies, there are other colors of poppies that you can wear during the commemoration period.

The purple poppy is sometimes worn to commemorate animals killed in war, including those used in the war effort. The War Horse Memorial sells purple poppies to raise funds for charities like the Blue Cross.

Sometimes black poppies are also worn, most often as a tribute to service personnel of African and Caribbean origin who were killed while on duty.

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