1 October 2021Comment

A poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

‘The peace garden is opposite the War Memorial,’
Said the old soldier.

‘We had to fight to make the peace
Back in the good old days.’

‘No, the War Memorial is opposite the peace garden,’
Said the old pacifist.

‘You’ve had so many wars to end all wars,
Still millions are dying from the wars you left behind.’

‘Look,’ said the old soldier.
‘You chickens stuck your peace garden
In front of our War Memorial to cause non-violent…

1 December 2016News

Alternative remembrance day events held around UK

‘I would rather have been there than anywhere else in the world,’ said Scottish pacifist poet Ashby McGowan after the Alternative Remembrance Sunday Ceremony in London on 13 November. He added: ‘Like many of the people there, I was in tears during the ceremony.’

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) organised the ceremony in Tavistock Square only a short distance from the official ceremony at the Cenotaph with its display of military pomp.

Ashby McGowan read some of his poetry…

1 December 2016News in Brief

Veterans for Peace UK had their largest Remembrance Sunday turnout on 13 November. 68 members of VfP walked behind a banner saying ‘Never Again’ to lay a wreath of white poppies at the Cenotaph in London.

The ceremony was the last piece of a four-day VfP UK gathering which included a public conference, a day-long AGM, and a guided peace walk in central London.

During the conference, a panel discussion on ‘Creating Enemies: Social perspectives’ was addressed by Bilal…

1 December 2015News

Aberystwyth peace action

White and red poppy wreaths are laid together during Aberystwyth’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony, after 11 years of negotiations between the town council, the Royal British Legion, and Aberystwyth Peace & Justice Network. Photo: Alun Williams

25 November 2014News

White poppies binned - and restored - in Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth Town councillor Jeff Smith lays the white poppy wreath for the second time. Photo: Kelvin Mason

As you read, imagine the contrast between the sea of red poppies gushing from the Tower of London and four fragile white poppy wreaths laid on a storm-lashed memorial in a small seaside town. On Remembrance Sunday, Aberystwyth town council, Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network (AP&JN), Women in Black and Côr Gobaith laid white poppy wreaths at the war memorial in…

31 December 2013News

In a respectful, poignant and moving white poppy ceremony in Aberystwyth, about 50 people from the area gathered on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate those who have lost their lives through war or in the preparation for war.

The white poppy is a symbol of grief for all people of all nationalities, armed forces and civilians alike, who are victims of war.

A silent vigil for peace by Aberystwyth Women in Black preceded the ceremony which combined songs, poems and words of peace and reconciliation. In addition to David Roberts’ poem, ‘There will be peace’, Harry Rogers read his own powerful and moving ‘White Poppies’ and ‘Son’, the latter written in response to the loss of a friend’s…

31 December 2013News

Ben Griffin from Veterans for Peace UK on taking the message to the Cenotaph

Veterans for Peace marching in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday.
Photo: Guy Smallman

As a child I was captivated by the sombre parades of Remembrance Sunday. The soldiers in their greatcoats, the veterans wearing their medals, and ‘The Last Post’, all played a part in recruiting me into the army.

Since I left the army, the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday have become hard for me to endure. The public relations campaign waged each year by the Royal British Legion…

1 December 2012Comment

Jeremy Kingston is inspired by Lt Gen Sir John Kiszley's frank admission

‘a tremendous networking opportunity’  – Lt General Sir John Kiszley’s comment on the Festival of Remembrance. He subsequently resigned as president of the British Legion.

How true it is, when each year, come November,
we gather here at Whitehall to remember
those gallant fellows we sent out to die,
whose sacrifice we’re here to glorify.
Other Ranks, yes, but subalterns as well
who, and the nation mourns their passing, fell.

Yet there’s…

1 December 2011News

The amazing turnabout in fortunes which marketing has brought to the Royal British Legion’s red poppy campaign is just the beginning for the nation’s most revered bloom, thinks Welsh entrepreneur Oliver Cyboli.

This year’s campaign is expected to raise the most money ever, more than £40m. The furore caused by Fifa’s objection to the England and Wales football teams wearing the emblem on their shirts during games, neither of which was against a former Axis power, set soccer fan Mr Cyboli thinking.

“We’ve seen what sponsorship has done for soccer, the money that has flowed into the game and the amazing talent it has bought – I mean brought. Well, this year we’ve seen designer red poppies…

1 November 2011Feature

A brief history of remembrance the pacifist way.

The idea of detaching Armistice Day, the red poppy and, later, Remembrance Day from their military culture dates back to 1926, just a few years after the British Legion was persuaded to try using the red poppy as a fundraising tool in Britain.

A member of the No More War Movement suggested that the British Legion should be asked to imprint “No More War” in the centre of the red poppies instead of “Haig Fund” and, failing this, pacifists should make their own flowers.

1 November 2011Feature

Poppies, poppies, poppies – we are entering the season of remembrance and of the ubiquitous red on the lapel of every public figure and increasingly on the front of buses, on products, in schools and just about everywhere.

Every year poppy fever rages higher as councils launch their local appeals with increasingly diverse events; schools and communities are urged to do their fundraising bit and the national appeal is launched with hit singles and celebrities. And you can of course follow trendy young “Poppy” on Facebook and Twitter.

This year three young Welsh boys are “the faces of this year’s Poppy Appeal”, chosen because their dad “died a hero in the war in Afghanistan” when his vehicle was…

13 August 2011Feature

Once again this year Aberystwyth Town Council will lay a white poppy wreath at the war memorial. The ceremony takes place on Saturday 8 November at 11am. In taking this action Aberystwyth Town Council is unique in Britain. But the decision to maintain the tradition was not made easily. It took the casting vote of the Mayor, Sue Jones-Davies.
The white poppy not only commemorates all those who suffer in wars; it also sends out the message that “there are better ways to resolve conflicts…

13 August 2011Feature

White poppies

There has been a Saturday morning peace picket in Stroud's High Street since the build-up to the Iraq war. This is my pitch for selling PN and seasonal white poppies but I've only just discovered -- to my chagrin -- that the picket predates the arrival of our family in Stroud and has been going on since the war in Kosovo.

The picket is small but, as I've lately been made aware, admirably persistent. It has become part of the street furniture so to speak and this year our…

1 April 2011News in Brief

On 7 March, Emdadur Choudhury, a member of “Muslims Against Crusades” (MAC), was fined £50 after being convicted of committing public disorder during the two-minute silence last Remembrance Day. Choudhury burned two large plastic orange poppies at an MAC demonstration in west London on 11 November. Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim Labour MP, described the fine as inadequate, saying: “We don't take it seriously enough, he hurt a lot of people. I really don't think it is acceptable to protest against…

1 February 2011Short Review

MAW, 2010; 104pp; £10; includes CD

Providing material not only for Remembrance Sunday but for other occasions which call for reflection on the reality of war and its cost, and the desire to work for peace and its cost too. The introduction on Henry Allingham and Harry Patch sets the tone which, in a variety of ways, honours the words of Harry Patch: “War isn’t worth one life”.