In a moving tribute to British soldiers who died in WWI, all 888,246 hand-made poppies at the Tower of London exhibition have been mowed down by machine gun fire.
Tourists looked on, horrified, as a row of specially restored Maschinengewehr 08 machine guns were rolled into place along the embankments and started to obliterate the fragile ceramic flowers.
“This was always the plan,” explained artist Tom Piper who helped to devise the exhibition. “Otherwise it would have just been some sort of mawkish display of nationalism.”
“No, this is the true side of war,” he added, as he drove a tank over the beautiful ceramic flowers, grinding the shards into the mud. “Perhaps I went a bit far by getting German veterans to operate the guns, but that’s art for you.”
“I came here to celebrate poppies and feel vaguely patriotic,” said one stunned onlooker watching the clouds of mustard gas spread across the exhibition. “This is so distasteful…Remembrance Day isn’t about remembering the true horror of war, it’s about the Last Post, our boys, and the nice old men on their scooters. How are we meant to feel positive about the deaths of millions now?”
“Every poppy represents a life lost and a family shattered,” said Piper. “Why, that one over there could be little Wilfred Owen. BLAM! And that one over there could be Field Marshal Haig! Oh wait, no, of course not, he was just the guy who sent 400,000 men to their deaths to gain ten miles of ground at the Somme. Silly me.”
The Tower also revealed a previously hidden side-exhibit of white flowers representing the 306 British soldiers who were executed for desertion. The white flowers were ceremonially shot by trained marksmen and dumped in unmarked graves.
“It’s important we remember what a spectacle war can be,” said David Cameron. “But we mustn’t forget that every death is a tragic loss, particularly when it’s one of the good guys.”
“Just look at them,” he said, picking up some broken petals and holding them gently in the palm of his hand. “So fragile, so innocent, and so ineffective against bullets. If we couldn’t be sure of the fact that none of them died in vain, this would be unbearably sad, wouldn’t it?”