Belfast Telegraph

Poppies sculpture is truly striking, but its real beauty lies in its potential to prompt reflection and respectful discussion

Editor's Viewpoint

The unveiling of the beautiful poppy installation at the Ulster Museum will give the people of Northern Ireland an opportunity to view at first hand one of the iconic sculptures and artistic creations originally displayed in a larger form at the Tower of London.

The very fact that this display could be brought to Belfast in some way represents - one hopes - a more mature and growing awareness of the shared sacrifice of the men and women of these islands, particularly in the two World Wars, but not exclusively so.

Much praise is due to the Belfast International Arts Festival for having the vision and imagination to bring the Weeping Window exhibit here as part of its line-up of events.

In Northern Ireland especially, our calendar is filled with the anniversaries and memories of lost loved ones, and we are fast approaching the season of Remembrance. In recent years we have been marking the centenaries of many significant events, including the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, the Battle of the Somme, and the Easter Rising.

To the credit of all concerned, these centenaries have been marked by a mature approach on all sides, and this has ensured that what some people feared as contentious and highly divisive occasions actually passed off in a mood of reflection, and perhaps wider understanding.

It is to be hoped that the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland in a few years' time will be marked with the same mutual respect.

Many leaders have played a symbolic part in recognising such events and also trying to bring some healing. For example, the Queen paid her respects in Dublin, and the late Martin McGuinness laid a wreath at a First World War battlefield.

In all of this, the poppy has become the almost universal symbol of Remembrance, and the presence of a unique poppy display in Belfast should help us all to think of what was, what might have been, and how we can work together for a shared and better future.

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