Concluding reflections on the Bath war memorial and armistice day event, by Laurence Tindall
When Quakers joined others at the Bath cenotaph on armistice day we took part in a military ceremony at a military memorial site. It’s neutered of any reference to real warfare but dedicated to service men and women who we remember lost their lives for our benefit.
Military guests study Bath Quakers’ wreath, 11 November 2018
We did not go there to remember Quaker objectors; it’s 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 did not go there to remember the enormously greater number of civilians that were killed and maimed; better to do that by giving a sub to Save the Children or Medecins Sans Frontieres.
We laid our white and red wreaths, along with all the other 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. As Quakers we deserve our place in the military pageant on this basis alone, and it is right and proper to do this.
We did not place our white wreath there as an act of competition as if to imply 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. The subsequent removal of our wreath is only because of a misunderstanding of what it represents. 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.