I strongly support a yearly, public act of remembrance for those killed and injured in wars; whether the big set piece wars of the last hundred years or the smaller conflicts; whether combatants or anyone else. I wear a red poppy. The Olympic opening ceremony rightly recalled both the dead of the world wars and those killed in the 7/7 bombings and elsewhere. It did so without cheering on killing other people.
Remembering the fallen and their bravery and sacrifice, sometimes, can become glorifying war. No remembrance events I have been to glorify war, (generally the only people who do so are those with no experience of it!) although any discussion about whether we need Trident, or what we are doing in Afghanistan, is unwelcome. And for many its not the day to do it.
Quakers nationally issued a document recently which included these words, which I think strike the right chord.
“We would like Quakers to be seen as an integral part of our local communities.
We are keen to take part in important events in the life of the community, especially when this brings people of different faiths together. At the same time we would wish to be true to our peace testimony. Unless a particular event is irredeemably militaristic, it should be possible to take part in a way which enables us to uphold our peace testimony.
How can we witness to peace when taking part in remembrance?
(One suggestion is)…. Wear a white poppy as well as a red one. The red poppy signifies remembrance of those who have died in past wars. The white poppy carries the message that wars should no longer be allowed to happen. It is not advisable to wear only a white poppy, because this is likely to cause unnecessary offence.”
Oddly, Winchmore Hill/N21 has no war memorial and there is a proposal that we should have one. How will we remember the fallen and work for a world where the lion lies down with the lamb, where we will study war no more, and beat our swords into ploughshares?