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Opinion

Lest we forget

11 Nov 2023 4 minute read
Police by the Cenotaph after the Armistice Day Service of Remembrance. Jeff Moore/PA Wire

Peter Morgan

Last week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful”. Given the history, the meaning and the purpose I cannot think of a more respectful act today.

The main message of the protests which will take place across the UK are to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, and for the UK to stop arming Israel.

But only the march in London seems to pose a problem.

And this week the home secretary waded in comparing those marching for peace with the far right.

Peace activists have been left feeling bemused that a peace march on armistice day has become the source of such controversy.

“The Armistice, an agreement to end the fighting of the First World War as a prelude to peace negotiations, began at 11am on 11 November 1918. Armistice is Latin for to stand (still) arms”. Royal British Legion.

An armistice is to literally cease firing, so that peace negotiations might take place. And every year since, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month we remember the moment with 2 minutes silence.

Armistice Day was established in the aftermath of WW1, “The war to end all wars. The saying was taken from a 1914 book by H. G. Wells, but gained popularity due to the sheer scale of the devastation and loss of life.

Respect

Armistice day was established as a mark of respect for all those in the armed forces who had fallen, and who have fallen since. And as an act of remembrance for future generations to never again make the mistakes of the past.

The modern peace movement has its roots in this post World War 1 collective desire to avoid future conflict, bloodshed and the massive loss of life experienced by many of the nations who had taken part.

Lest we forget the peace movement was largely founded & led by mothers of the fallen.

Lest we forget, we will remember those who sacrificed their lives, so that we might live. In the aftermath of World War 2 we remember all those who sacrificed their lives so that we might live free from the Tyranny of fascism.

Lest we forget many people wear flowers as a symbol of remembrance. In Wales many wore daffodils, in France the Bluet de France was worn, and in recent years the Saffron Marigold has become the Indian flower of remembrance.

Around the world poppies have long been used as a symbol of remembrance. The White Poppy was first introduced by the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1933 as a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars.

And over 100 years since that first armistice, it is the red poppy that grew on Flanders Fields, and immortalised by Canadian the poet John McCrae, which became the flower of remembrance for the fallen used to this day.

Lest we forget

And the red poppy has also long featured in Palestinian art and has come to symbolise resistance, sacrifice and indigenous Palestinian heritage. It is the colours of the poppy which make up the Palestinian flag.

In 1920 following the collapse of the multi-cultural ottoman empire, the mandate for Palestine was assigned to the United Kingdom and ended amidst the bloodshed of the 1947-1949 Palestinian war in 1948.

214 British service personnel lost their lives, largely thanks to the competing promises the British government had made to two separate groups of people. Many more Israeli’s and Palestinians were killed. The rest is history.

On armistice day 2023, amidst the ongoing siege of Gaza, on a day when we are asked to remember the sacrifices made by British service personnel, I can think of no more respectful an act than a march for peace.

What I do find both provocative and deeply disrespectful, are those who would seek to portray peace marchers as a hate filled mob. Who would use armistice day to gloss over history, deliberately forget the sacrifices of the fallen and use this day to sow division and discord amongst us.

Lest we forget, today we remember the fallen.
Lest we forget today there are those who march in remembrance and for peace.
Lest we forget.


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Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
6 months ago

Let us hope that Cruella will soon have more time on her hands and be able to catch up with news and opinion from Cymru. This piece should be near the top of her reading list.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Totally agreed.

Barbara H.
Barbara H.
6 months ago

The vile rhetoric coming from Westminster proves just how low they are prepared to go. Babies are dying in Gaza because of this crap. Babies and the doctors and nurses trying to save them are not the enemy.
If we had this nonsense in our lives, I can only imagine the whining and whinging from our privelege. A privelege that we are not grateful for nor educated enough to respect the sacrifices of previous generations. We need to realise just how lucky we are.

Robin Lynn
Robin Lynn
6 months ago

According to the Independent the Royal British Legion has issued a statement supporting the right to protest about the war. That’s good enough for me.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago

It’s somewhat ironic that a day to remember the fallen of two world wars as well as to remind us that the evils of fascism should never be repeated to have a Home Secretary incite people who are basically fascist themselves to acts of violence, or to ‘protect the Cenotaph’ from a crowd of marchers who have no intention of going anywhere near Whitehall and the Armistice event. Already we know that over 80 extreme right-wing counter protesters have been arrested, which is gratifying that for once the police are focusing on the extreme-right, rather than the extreme left. I… Read more »

Bethan
Bethan
6 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Agree wholeheartedly

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago

So, what, 80-90 of Bravermans stormtroopers arrested? Lenon and Fox in the crowd?

Will she be gone by today. Will Sunak find a backbone. Will civil war break out in the Tory party if he fires her. Does ARTD still think Bravernmen is an excellent home sec and if fired think Sunak is the best decisive PM ever.

Glwyo
Glwyo
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Hardly stormtroopers. Just useful idiots, as most of the far right is.

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago
Reply to  Glwyo

Exactly what they are and there to do what she hoped would happen, it is what she wanted to see, the two groups clashing. The blueprints come from trump. Same mo.

karl
karl
6 months ago

So the far right abused the rememberance event. Meanwhile the peace protest lived up to that name.But Tommy and his mob won’t be the press target, probably spin it somehow. I don’t wear a poppy anymore, since the far right lies and attempts to steal rememberance. Each year a new claim of can’t sell poppies or abused for doing so. I don’t wish to be associated with those who use families losses to ply their bigotry.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago

A piece of writing that certainly represents the views of the overwhelming majority of human life on this planet. A piece which fully exposes the lies of those who fraudulently claim to speak for the ‘majority’ here or anywhere. A piece which puts a government on the precipice of its’ immediate fall, a government which has rallied its’s far right foot soldiers to step forward and threaten the annual commemoration of those who paid the ultimate price so that THEY could insult and desecrate their memory. They must ALL go now.

Annibendod
Annibendod
6 months ago

Must surely only be a matter of time untill the far right agitator Braverman is shown the door. Her lies incited a facist and racist English Nationalist mob to violence against the police. She and her authoritarian supporters have been shown up for what they are today. For my part, it is another reminder why the Tory State needs to be dismantled. The days of that disgraceful party being in power off the back of minority votes, in our case in Wales having never won a plurality of our MP’s in the history of democracy, must be at an end.… Read more »

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
6 months ago

First of the Tory party have for a long time been an English Nationalist party Robinson the right wing fascist thug is a Tory right wing supporter Braverman incited these riots SHE SHOULD BE PUT IN PRISON FOR INCITING VIOLENCE but the Right wing media especially G B news Surprise surprise stirred it and the hate filled Daily Mail which actually supported the Nazi party and the British Fascist Oswold Mosley it was only the outbreak of W W 2 that stopped that forced that rag paper to stop

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