By the way – Today is National Armed Forces day in the United Kingdom, so this story is dedicated to that cause. If I ever make any money from this story in the future, it will be donated to the Royal British Legion.
Poppies and Soap Boxes.
Two men were sitting in the public lounge of their local pub. It was Thursday evening and they had just finished their work for the day and both fancied a pint before heading home.
The two men were of similar ages, in their thirties and were both wearing suits and had removed their ties. They worked together in the same office and walked past the same pub on their way home, but they didn’t really know each other that well.
As they were sitting there, a man came in to the pub selling paper poppies for the Poppy appeal in support of the Royal British Legion.
Keith put his hand in his pocket and gave the man a Five pound note for which he received a poppy and a smile from the old veteran selling them.
Mike, on the other hand did not buy a poppy and the old veteran moved on to another table.
“I don’t know why they still sell those things. The War was sixty years ago. I don’t hold with all that patriotic nonsense. I mean, it was just a fluke we were born here instead of, say, Borneo.”
Keith pinned the poppy to his lapel, although he was resigned to the fact it will probably fall off on his way home and he’d have to buy another one before Armistice day on the 11th of November. 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It was ingrained into him.
Mike said again “I don’t know why you bother with that Keith.”
Keith replied “Well I bother because I am patriotic. It doesn’t just represent those who died in the Second World War or the First World War but in every war that all our servicemen have ever fought and died in. They fought to preserve our way of life or to try to protect people from oppression around the world. People like my Grandfather, who was lucky and came back from the War, unlike his brother who died, just like so many others. If it hadn’t been for them, we wouldn’t be having this little chat in this pub now, drinking beer. I’m Patriotic because this country has done a lot for me. It provided education so that my Sister and I could attend school. Do you know how many children around the world, especially girls aren’t lucky enough to get free schooling? Back in the 1980’s when my Dad lost his job and was out of work, he got money from this country to tide him over. Now, it wasn’t a lot of money and things were hard for those six months. I can still remember my Mum trying to feed four of us on that small amount of money until Dad found work again. Small though it was, it was still a lifeline. This country provides the Police and a level of law and order, so that when my Mum got mugged outside the supermarket, they managed to catch the criminals and put them behind bars. Do you know how many people live without any law and order around the world? Where people live constantly afraid of criminal gangs and militias and the strong take what they want and everyone just has to put up with it? Then when my sister got Cancer two years ago, the National Health Service looked after her and gave her the treatment she needed. We didn’t have to pay a penny for that healthcare. She got the all clear just three weeks ago. She wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for our healthcare. Do you know how many people around the world are lucky to have free healthcare? We also have freedom of speech and a free press, which gives you the right to criticise this country and we can have this discussion. We are lucky to both work in Media; Television and the newspapers are free to print the truth in this country. That’s more than many can say. We also are lucky to live in a democracy. We have the right to elect and to remove our leaders. How many people world-wide would love to be able to do that. How many have died trying to bring that about? I agree that this country is far from perfect. The Education system, the Police and the NHS, the Benefits, the Media, they could all do with improving but how many of the 7 Billion people around this world though are lucky to have what we have?”
Pausing for breath, Keith looked around. Quite a few people were staring at them around the pub. Keith started to blush with embarrassment, he hadn’t meant to get up on his soapbox and have a rant. Then the people in the pub started to applaud. Someone came over and patted him on the shoulder and brought him another pint of beer.
Mike looked a bit embarrassed too, he leaned forwards and said “Yes OK, we’ve got the Roads, the Aqueduct and law and order, but what did the Romans ever do for us?”
At the reference to one of their favourite films, Mike and Keith both started laughing. Mike didn’t agree, but then they could agree to differ and still remain friends. They were lucky they had that freedom.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 01/July/2018