THIS Remembrance Day should be particularly poignant. Clearly 2018 will be the most significant and moving. The 100th anniversary of “the war to end all wars” ceasing should be a wake-up call to all us as to the suffering of war and a rallying call for us to avoid it at all costs in the future.

This year we have witnessed the retelling of Somme, Gallipoli, Jutland memories against events of this year such as the Chilcot report and the chilling scenes in Aleppo. And so November gives a time for solemn, respectful and reverent remembrance. The message is one of faith (in the support of others), hope (for future peace) and charity (to those who paid the supreme sacrifice). Or is it?

For as the carnage of 1916 changed both the tempo of the war and public opinion on war, 2016 has marked significant changes. The age of disruption alongside a marked increase in nationalist behaviour. Ironically, the cause of historic hostility had been both nationalism and chaotic events culminating in n inextinguishable spark.

In the past 10 days, football associations lit a spark then stood back and allowed populist nationalism to fill the void. “Some people think football is a matter of life and death ... It is much more serious than that”, according to Bill Shankly. This is poppycock. Our family heirloom of a Heart of Midlothian 1914-15 season ticket book with only one stub ripped out attests to that.

Men across the world shelved boyish ambitions for a greater cause. The origin of the following quote may be debated but its sentiment is clear: “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Across Scotland, men fell from football teams, shinty teams, farms and factories.

So while football associations might think they are standing for a good cause they might want to ask the following questions: what does the poppy stand for? Why did men across the country join up? What lessons does the war tell us about the excesses nationalism? And what message do these excesses send to young idols around rules and discipline?

Both associations might argue that the poppy is international and apolitical. The war was international and the poppy was adorned across the Commonwealth. But there are other counties and conflicts to consider. Football, as the past year has again shown, has become parochial at best, self-serving and materialist at worst. On another day the associations could just as easily have been banning similar symbols on shirts. They have tried to do their bit to honour the soccer stars to soldiers.

They could not lace their boots. If you wish to sleep peacefully at night, draw back from nationalist extremities, conflict, imperial delusions and escalating behaviour. Do your best to extinguish sparks that could lead to unnecessary conflict.

Scottish school students specialising in history studies could tell you that. But wait ... we removed that from the curriculum. Over to rampant nationalism, then, to offer up populism to fill the void of informed debate and discussion, diplomacy and de-escalation. Just as the end of 1916 was a worrying time, 2016 bodes no better. What will 2017 bring? If it is anything like the bloody quagmire of Third Ypres (the Battle of Passchendaele) slogging and sacrifice will continue. Roll on the end of the war to end all wars. Perhaps a clarion call will sound and, 100 years on, will be heard. Meantime, to the fallen of 1916 and before and after, respectfully, we will remember them.

Rest in peace the innocent generation who fell 1914-18; rest in peace common sense and informed discussion in the modern era. Let’s just hope peace does not rest as we go into that dark night. Against the dark backdrop we can all wear a poppy, not in a triumphant way but as a reminder of the carnage of war and as a symbol of, and material help to, those so badly damaged by it

Neil McLennan is a former history teacher and former president of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History. He has written on a wide array of history subjects including a teaching resource for Remembrance. He is chairman of the Wilfred Owen 1917-2017 Committee. It is planning a number of events for 2017 to commemorate the presence of the First World War poets in Scotland and their influence.