Why we attend the Armistice commemoration, by Laurence Tindall

Laurence Tindall concludes his series on commemorative war memorials with a personal statement about why Bath Quakers attend the civic and military Armistice ceremony in Bath.

When we attend the Bath war memorial this armistice day we will be taking part in a military ceremony at a military memorial site neutered of any reference to real warfare but dedicated to service men and women who we remember lost their lives for our benefit.

We remember the Quaker men and women who served and died in the forces and other services at home and abroad either as fighters or non-combatants

We do not go there to remember Quaker objectors; it would be better to remember them where they would be if they were alive now: outside the Abbey on the peace stall, working for the cause. We do not go there to remember the enormously greater number of civilians that were killed and maimed; that would be better done with a sub to Save the Children or Medecins Sans Frontieres.

We lay our red and white wreaths along with the red wreaths to remember the Quaker men and women who served and died in the forces and other services at home and abroad either as fighters or non-combatants. We deserve our place in the military pageant on this basis alone, and it is right and proper to do this.

We are not putting a white poppy wreath there as an act of competition as if implying that the white poppy is more peace-loving than the red. We know that the red poppy is genuinely held as a symbol of peace, bought by the blood of the fallen. And we know that we have no special righteous claim to be more peace loving than others.

As Christ taught us there is no hierarchy of love or sin; we all do our best. If our wreath is removed afterwards it is only because of a misunderstanding of what it represents, and this is of no consequence since the important thing has been achieved.

We have all met on the crossroad where our parallel paths have joined for a moment and that crossroads is called peace and reconciliation.

Bath Quakers are pleased in this 100th anniversary year once again to attend the 11 November ceremony by kind invitation of the Royal British Legion and civic organisers.

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