Poppies on uncommon ground

IssueDecember 2007 - January 2008
News by Kelvin Mason

On 10 November, for the fourth year running, the Mayor of Aberystwyth, Lorrae Jones-Southgate, laid a white poppy wreath at the castle war memorial on behalf of the Town Council, in the presence of around 40 people.

Leading the ceremony, Pryderi Llwyd Jones said: “We have gathered here on the eve of Remembrance Sunday to remember, with those who will be here tomorrow, those who have lost their lives in two world wars and the families and communities that lost their loved ones. But we must also remember that we're living in a world where war and preparation for war are still creating sorrow and enmity, suffering and conflict.

“We are here in the belief that there is an alternative way. The white poppy is a symbol of that way of peace.”

Other hearts

Following two minutes' silence, Côr Gobaith sang Lloyd Stone's lyrics to Sibelius' Finlandia: “But other hearts in other lands are beating / With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.”

White and red

This year, the Cambrian News, West Wales' “biggest selling weekly newspaper”, printed a letter from local activist Lotte Reimer, on behalf of Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network, thanking the Council for their action, and also thanking the Royal British Legion “for the respect they accord the white poppy ceremony”.

She also wished the British Legion all the best with their red poppy appeal.

She ended: “One day, we hope a constructive dialogue will mean red and white poppy wreaths can be laid side by side in a shared ceremony of remembrance.”

Towards sharing

Although the Legion has not “retreated” on the question of a shared ceremony, they have taken a positive step to the side, recognising a common sentiment behind the two ceremonies, and offering their full support for a white poppy appeal where the whole town can remember together, perhaps on Peace Day, 21 September.

The Town Council and Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network have yet to discuss this proposal.

Last year, in the journal Antipode, activist geographer Paul Chatterton published a paper on how we could “Change the world in unknown ways” by “learning to walk with others on uncommon ground”.

Will Aberystwyth put its very best foot forward to put theory into practice? Hopes and dreams.

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