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ISSUE 72 WINTER 2015/6 Full pdf signs and symbols

Peace Matters Index

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- signs and symbols
- what war whose memory?
- where are we now?
- over the top
- news from the PPU







PPU Remembrance Day

PPU Remembrace Day event at Conscietious Objector Stone 11 November 2015


We were pleased to welcome 1500 new supporters to our white poppy project last year. With help from many of you around the country we distributed well in excess of 110,000 white poppies. A substantial increase on last year. Last year many more white poppy wreaths were laid and more white poppies have gone to Canada and New Zealand where 25 April - Anzac Day - is their equivalent to Britain’s Remembrance Day. While in Belgium more white poppies can be seen amid the deluge of the British Legion (Shoulder to shoulder with all who serve) red ones each year. Many thanks too for the generous donations which make our work possible.

Remembrance Day
PPU Remembrace Day event at Conscietious Objector Stone

Remembrance Day is now only one of several events in support of the armed forces that have imposed themselves on the national calendar. Martial values and the opaque but turbo- charged military ethos, as government ministers like to call it, or militarism as the PPU calls it, is seeping largely unnoticed into every crevice of civil life. At events and displays around the country, at ceremonies, at ‘Meet the Army’ events, in schools and in the graveyards in Flanders in one form or other the military is ever present to impress on us that their way is the only way. There is no alternative.

The overt militarisation has been visibly underway since 2000 when the Ministry of Defence published ‘Soldiering – The Military Covenant’. A document that attempts to give substance to 400 years of wishful thinking. It speaks of the military person’s ‘ultimate sacrifice’ and the special bond and duty the nation therefore owes the soldier. It is silent on the considerable penalty that the citizens pay as a consequence of the soldier’s work! Soldiering and its development of a military covenant is special pleading on behalf of a dangerous institution which, together with its many supporters, is demanding our sympathy and money.

Whatever sympathy one may have for individual military persons who have been injured or traumatised or for the families of those who have been killed, it must surely be tempered by the fact that in the last 25 years of Britain’s wars these men and women have willingly (and one might say gratuitously) invaded sovereign countries, caused mayhem and untold misery there; the consequence of their actions are all around us and have in no small measure contributed to the instability in much of the world. After all the majority of the military personnel are no more likely to face the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ that any of us. Though a better resourced NHS might offer greater security and save more lives than any IED proof vehicle.

The military covenant was originally no more that a grandiose aspiration. As a consequence of the British military’s ‘self inflicted’ casualties and following noisy promoting by General Dannatt and the British Legion a reluctant government was forced to codify many of the covenant’s expectations. In its new guise as the Armed Forces Covenant it places all kinds of legal obligations on local councils and institutions. The state has never cared much for the shattered bodies returning from the wars it sent them to. As cuts in local services are taking place the Armed Forces Covenant insists that local services should privilege military personnel. What is your local authority doing? [http://tinyurl.com/mfm3pun]

Armed Forces Day, launched nine years after ‘Soldiering’, was Gordon Brown’s more muscular version of the Veterans Day he launched 3 years previously. While ‘Soldiering’ was a response to Britain’s increasing military pursuits and Tony Blair’s ‘vision’ at the time: ‘…today our Armed Forces are called upon to take action in many different parts of the world, not so much to defend our country but to defend its long-term security interests. …in truth, today an army fights not just for territory and military superiority but often for hearts and minds, and it depends not simply on discipline, but also on belief’, Armed Forces Day was and is designed to embed the military world more closely, more firmly, more seamlessly into civil life and the state is anxious we are in tune with its drumbeat. While once governments promised us a better future today they only promise to protect us from a fearful world full of terrorists, radicals, ‘money sucking migrants’ and Europe. More military ethos in schools along with renewal of Trident, closer surveillance, more cadet forces, armed policemen and plenty of drones is thought to do the job.

Who do you think you are kidding mister politician…

Jan Melichar

Peace Pledge Union, 1 Peace Passage, London N7 0BT. Tel +44 (0)20 7424 9444 contact   |  where to find us