It's not often I reply to my detractors in print - God knows, some weeks I'd have nothing else to do but address those people who reckon I should a) be sacked, b) be tarred and feathered, or c) burn in hell because of something or other I'd said in my column.

Besides, this column is the place where I put forward my opinion and you, dear reader, are allowed to make your responses in any way you see fit - generally on the Letters page, sometimes by e-mail (but not so much since the new firewall the IT people have put in stops obscenities getting through) and occasionally via colourfully-crayoned messages scrawled on bits of old bandage.

Last week I wrote what I should have guessed would have been an - excuse the pun here - inflammatory article when I said that the burning of flags, which seems to be the protest weapon of choice for many groups, didn't really exercise me as much as it seemed to other people, and that there were far worse things in the world than burning a bit of patterned cloth. Even if it is the Union Flag which, I pointed out, wasn't that attractive a thing anyway.

Yesterday one of our regular correspondents wrote in the T&A's Letters page about how this had left him "seething with anger".

The reason? "Millions of British soldiers have gone into battle behind the Union Flag, many never returning. It is not important whether they were right or wrong, they did their duty."

The letter writer wondered if I'd seen the Union Flag in evidence as British troops yomped across the Falkland Islands, and finished up by speculating whether I would be "spouting off" at Remembrance Day parades this weekend.

What I find strange is the idea that you have to be a gung-ho, flag-waving patriot to mark the sacrifice that men and women throughout the years have made during times of war.

Is it right that you have to fully support every single political decision that leads to our soldiers being sent into dangerous situations in order to appreciate the work they have done and mourn those who have died in some foreign field?

Am I not allowed to spend a moment contemplating the deaths of men and women, young and old, who were sent into the heat of battle in Iraq and Northern Ireland and the fields of Europe and, yes, the Falkland Islands - despite that latter conflict's main role to be to secure another term for Thatcher's Government - largely due to dubious political decisions?

I, too, am seething with anger. I am angry that throughout history the elected representatives of this country have seen fit to squander the lives of its troops in morally reprehensible wars. I am angry that when we do send men and women to war, we don't equip them properly and allow our own allies to kill them "accidentally". I am angry that the lessons of the Second World War, which was a war to engage and halt the spread of fascism across the globe, seem to have been utterly disregarded today as the politics of hate thrive and rally guessed it, the Union Flag.

So yes, I will be sparing more than a thought this Sunday for those who have lost their lives during wartime, but no, I cannot honestly say that the fact they died while marching under the British flag makes things any better. And while I do not compare my "miserable" loyalty to the sacrifice they gave, I do hope that my children and their children will learn the lessons of the past and to question and resist future wars that are fought on the whim of a Government or even a Prime Minister and to make sure that the mistakes that led to the deaths of millions are not repeated.