Bath Quakers participate in moving and dignified Remembrance Day ceremony

Bath Quakers were privileged to participate in a well-attended Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph outside Victoria Park.

William Heath and Lin Patterson write:

People in Bath met to remember those who have suffered in wars in a moving ceremony on Sunday 12 November. Bath Quakers were pleased to participate fully in the occasion.

There can be unease between militarist and pacifist cultures. The tone of a civic and military ceremony is quite different to Friends’ usual quiet Sunday morning, with uniforms, military music, people stamping and shouting orders. Friends don’t normally worship under an imposing crucifix, let alone one adorned with a Crusader sword. Pacifists do not usually take part in military ceremonies, but the Royal British Legion has responded courteously to our requests to participate over three years.

This was above all a unifying and moving human event. We were among the bereaved sharing a solemn, sincere and respectful ceremony. As we stood together with servicemen, mothers and children on the uneven road tarmac a priest said inclusive prayers for all who suffer as a result for conflict, including civilians whose lives were disfigured by war or terror. He prayed for peacemakers and peacekeepers.

Bath Quakers’ wreath sits alongside other tributes outside Victoria Park.

Two Bath Quakers – Jane Stephenson and Lin Patterson – laid a white poppy wreath with dignity and solemnity. After the ceremony finished we returned to our York Street Meeting House for quiet reflection and sharing.

People studying the distinct message of the white poppy wreath.

The text on the wreath reads:

In remembrance of all who die in wars. Laid by Bath Quaker Meeting. White poppies are courtesy of The Peace Pledge Union. They first appeared in 1933 when members of the Women’s Co-operative Guild, mothers, sisters, widows and sweethearts of men killed in the First World War were concerned about the drift to war. Over 300 wars later, and with over 200,000,000 people killed, the white poppy is a symbol of grief and the need to work for peace.

UPDATE – 17 Nov 2017 The white poppy wreath is still there, but subtly altered with the sensitive and welcome addition by persons unknown of a few red poppies: see picture.

In a sign of engagement the white poppy wreath has acquired some welcome red poppies.

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