9th November 2014

Poppy Memorial attracts millions of visitors – why?

Beth Slatcher-Greenwood reflects on the unprecedented popularity of a memorial commemorating one hundred years since the outbreak of World War I

As we draw closer to the 11th day of the 11th month, we become more aware of Remembrance Day. Aside from putting on a poppy and dropping a few coins into the collection tin at Sainsbury’s, millions of people including myself have made the journey to London to view the construction of the sea of ceramic poppies, entitled ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by Artist Paul Cummins, that will progressively fill the Tower of London’s famous moat.

There will be 888246 ceramic poppies planted in the ground before the 11th of November, each flower representing a fallen soldier of the First World War. The exhibition has far surpassed anyone’s expectations, least of all the representatives of the Tower of London who have had to bring in extra staff to secure the site and keep crowds under control.

Why has it been such a success? Is it the occasion or the spectacle?

The real reason that the memorial has been such a triumph is a combination of both. The visitors to the display are of all ages and backgrounds but everyone has come to reflect.

The true accomplishment of this memorial is its universality which must be said to be rooted in its design. The concept is simple: one poppy for each casualty, however the outcome, is so much more meaningful.

Viewing the poppies from a distance they form a sea of red to mimic the immense bloodshed that started 100 years ago, yet view them up close and you can appreciate just how many men and women gave their lives to protect our country’s future.

If you can spare a minute on Armistice Day, why not think silently about the loss of those men and women that the poppies at the Tower honour and also ones that have paid the ultimate sacrifice since?

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