I acknowledge the value and importance that many people place upon evidencing their remembrance of the killed and maimed combatants and non-combatants from past wars and violent conflicts. People do this by wearing poppies (both red and white), attending parades and participating in such ceremonies as was seen at the Albert Hall on Saturday.
The Veterans for Peace (and UK chapter) “seek a culture of peace and the abolition of war”. I am at one with them. And whilst many of them attend remembrance ceremonies, I remain deeply uncomfortable with the efforts of some (and it is only some) to mix in jingoism and muted glorification of war. And so along with others, and since it is my choice, I prefer to remain apart from such public events and shows of support. There are other reasons too, which I won’t go into.
However, for me, this is a day when I do remember all the victims of all the political decisions to go to war. This is day when I admire the courage and spirit of people who are rebuilding their lives after being subjected to the physical and psychological violence of warfare (for example, I am reminded of the powerful stage show “The Two Worlds of Charlie F” which I saw a few months ago in Aylesbury. Go see the show if you can!) And I reminded of my schoolboy reading of Wilfred Owen’s poem:
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest,
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
[Extract from warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html]
I recall my Mother telling me how her Father would never talk about his experiences in WW1. And I remember to link this day to Holocaust Memorial Day in January and other days that note the bloody and violent events of history.
This is a day when I remember how sad I am that there are still powerful people who believe that violence and war is the appropriate response to some events even when we have such shining examples of people who chose a different path: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and now Malala Yousafzai.
I also remember how much money is spent on weapons every year instead of materials and tools to grow crops, prevent illness and build peace.
This is certainly a day for remembering. It is also a day for action.
Although I like to think that I spend every day helping to build a safer and more peaceful Buckingham, UK and the World, I will be paying particular attention to doing so today. This blog is part of that action. I will also point you towards: 12 Ways to Build Peace.
What action will you take today to build a more peaceful world?
Courtesy of Jon Harvey at A Just Future: Fair for All