Two things have been different about acts of Remembrance for me this year. For the first time I’m wearing a white poppy rather than a red one. It’s a poppy for peace. I do want to remember those who have died and continue to risk their lives in war, but not at the expense of recognising its horror and the need to continue to strive to end it. Also for the first time, Remembrance Sunday wasn’t overtly marked in the church service I went to this week.
The think tank Ekklesia reckons we need to shake up how we mark Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day. In a report published last week, they suggest: incorporating those executed for conscientious objection or “cowardice”; acknowledging that some people “die in vain”; ending automatic reference to soldiers dying for “the freedom we enjoy today”; and making a greater commitment towards peace. Perhaps the “unarmed forced” (peace organisations) should have chaplains in the same way the armed forces do? They also suggest there should be wider acknowledgment of other effects of war, such as ecological damage. You can read the full report here.
I’m not sure what I think of this, but my gut reaction is that this is easy for me to approve of as someone whose family and friends have remained thus far untouched by war-related death. I might take a different view if I was the mother, sister or daughter of one of a soldier killed in action this year.