Armistice Day: Friday 11th November
Remembrance Sunday: 13th November
As pacifists, we mourn the dead of 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 peace activists make a concerted effort during November. We consider the way 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“.
Photo: British Legion
How can we resist militaristic commemorations of war?
We must remember those killed in war. Often, though, our memorials and ceremonies forget, or deliberately omit, to talk about 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 a special sort 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 military set out to kill. We must mourn all of their deaths, as they’re all victims of a violent, militarised society.
There will be a short vigil in Oxford for people of all faiths and none on Friday 11th November at 11am, to include a 2 minute silence and any prayers or poems people would like to contribute. At the Peace Plaque, Bonn Square (next to Westgate). Other events happening throughout the country.
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.
White poppies are to remember all the victims of all wars. They are an outward sign that you reject violent forms of intervention and support peaceful alternatives. You can get yours from FoR by calling 01865 250781 or fill in the form below. Suggested donation for a poppy: £1.50 including p&p then 60p for each additional poppy. (Orders over 25 poppies, best to get them direct from the Peace Pledge Union)
For orders below £5, send a cheque 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
Here’s a prayer for Remembrance Sunday or during a vigil on Remembrance Day:
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.
Lead us along your path to peace,
Help us when the pressure to conform grows strong
And to question when groups are scapegoated over
social, political, or economic problems.
Make us channels of your peace.
In Jesus name,
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 upper primary and lower secondary pupils.