The poppy a poignant symbol of sacrifice... it’s time to stop dragging it into grubby political controversies
This weekend, our thoughts turn to the millions of human beings who have died in the two world wars and many other conflicts. Tomorrow there will be acts of remembrance at cenotaphs and in churches all over this province and much further afield.
Today, we publish moving stories from former service personnel who served in conflicts including the Second World War and Afghanistan. They have spoken eloquently about what it means to serve, the losses they witnessed and the life-changing injuries that some have suffered.
This period has a special resonance for Northern Ireland too.
No one can forget the horror and suffering from the no-warning Provisional IRA bomb at the Enniskillen cenotaph in 1987, and homes will seem empty this weekend because of the many other victims of violence affected by the Troubles.
Given the sombre and dignified atmosphere of remembrance, it is a pity that the Northern Ireland soccer team were not allowed to wear poppies in their World Cup game.
Instead, they wore black armbands to comply with Fifa rules, but it would have been better if they had followed the example of the England and Scotland teams, who ignored the ban.
It is unfortunate that this year, yet again, there has been further controversy about the poppy, just as there has been for many years. Some of the language used is, and has been, hurtful to those who wear the poppy and cherish its significance. It remains a great pity that there are still those who are determined to see it only as a political symbol.
Even the servicemen and women who take part in wars do not necessarily endorse the military action in which they are engaged.
It is important to remember that the poppy transcends merely political decision-making, and that it belongs to an altogether higher and deeply poignant sphere of sacrifice, loss and remembrance.