Armistice Day: Saturday 11th November
Remembrance Sunday: 12th November
As pacifists, we mourn every single victim of war.
The season of remembrance is upon us. We encourage people to think about the consequences of war throughout the year, but peacemakers give a concerted push during November, when militaristic commemorations are at their loudesr. We examine the way in which we publicly remember war as a society; is it becoming one-sided, white-washed or over-simplified?
Remembrance is increasingly being used to paint the military is an entirely positive light and even to recruit people. We’re seeing shamelessly militaristic language, including poppies being sold in Manchester through self-proclaimed “office ‘raids’ in partnership with local businesses”.
Resisting militaristism around Remembrance
We must remember those killed in war. Often, though, our memorials and ceremonies forget, or deliberately omit, civilian deaths. Are we really learning from the tragedy of war to prevent further conflict and death? The “never again” message of Remembrance seems to be lost. Often lost amongst promotion of the armed forces. How good are we at spotting when war is being glorified, or soldiers hailed as heroes and as being a superior type of courageous? Do we frequently deny that many civilian deaths are caused by members of the armed forces?
Perhaps you’d like to hold a vigil in your town square at 11am on 11th November. All you need is to invite people, and perhaps have a few white poppies for people to wear (see below). You could use some of the time to think about the different groups of people killed in war. All wars, and all people on all sides. Civilians. Soldiers. The people that the British and allied militaries have killed. We must mourn all of their deaths, as they’re all victims of violent, militarised societies.
We’re the only country in the EU to recruit children into the armed forces. You can sign this petition to raise the age of recruitment into the armed forces from 16 to 18.
A prayer for Remembrance:
God the creator, sustainer and redeemer,
We thank you for life and the freedom to live it.
We thank you for giving us people to love,
And people to find challenging.
Through your son you call us
To love our enemy.
Let us not forget that the people caught up in war
are not those in disagreement, but civilians;
That WWI was not fought between enemies,
But by pawns, children, conscripts in distant fields.
Help us never to forget those who have died in war,
But to be reminded that war is not an inevitable evil,
And to creatively seek nonviolent means to peace.
Lead us along your path to peace,
Help us when the pressure to conform grows strong
And to question easy answers and scapegoating over
social, political, or economic problems.
Make us channels of your peace.
In Jesus name,
White poppies are to remember all victims of all wars. They symbolise a commitment to challenge militarism and work to prevent further wars. You can get yours from FoR by calling 01865 250781 or fill in the form below. Suggested donation for a poppy: £2 including p&p then 80p for each additional poppy. (Orders over 25 poppies, best to get them direct from the Peace Pledge Union)
For donations below £5, send a cheque or CAF voucher, payable to “Fellowship of Reconciliation”, to the address at the bottom of the page or by BACS: Account name as above, AN: 50492192, SC: 08-90-34
For more information on the peace movement during WWI, see FoR’s publication Opposing World War One: Courange and Conscience. There is also an interesting resource on Reimagining Remembrance, produced by Ekklesia.
FoR begun in 1914 to prevent the outbreak of WWI and to seek a nonviolent alternative. You can join a movement of people seeking to prevent war by addressing root causes of conflict, by becoming a member of FoR.
Other resources: The Peace Education Network has an assembly resource for Remembrance for upper primary and lower secondary pupils.