Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Armistice Day in Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth is the first local council to officially comemorate non combatants as part of remembrance, indeed it is the only local authority in Britain to have an officially sanctioned event where a wreath of white poppies is lain at the Cenotaph (as well as the traditional wreath of red poppies) to remember all victims of war after a vote on the council in 2004. It has not been without controversy. We recently received in our big red postbag this statement from Aberystwyth Peace & Justice Network

“On behalf of our town Council, Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network wouldlike to invite you to a service of remembrance and peace. Please forward this message to your networks.

Once again this year Aberystwyth Town Council will lay a white poppy wreathat the war memorial. In taking this action our Council is unique in Britain.But the decision to maintain the tradition was not made easily. It took the casting vote of Mayor, Sue Jones-Davies. So, the initiative needs the activesupport of everyone committed to working for a peaceful and just world.

The white poppy not only commemorates all those who suffer in wars, it alsosends out the message that, ‘there are better ways to resolve conflicts than killing strangers’. Britain is the world’s second largest arms exporter. The white poppy represents hope for a culture in which preparation for armed conflict is considered immoral rather than a valid economic activity.

This year’s ceremony takes place on Saturday 8th November at 11am. It willbe led by Rhidian Griffith, an elder of Capel y Morfa, Aberystwyth. Côr Gobaith will sing No More War and Mae Gen I Freuddwyd. The latter is asong based on Martin Luther King Jr’s historic speech ‘I have a dream’. Words are by Myrddin Ap Dafydd and the song envisages a world of peace,harmony and justice.

Prior to the Council’s decision, Aberystwth Peace and Justice Network and the Royal British Legion failed to reconcile the red and white poppy traditions. In September Aberystwyth RBL wrote to the Council to declin ebecause ‘the White Poppy is not a charitable thing… November is the Remembrance of those who gave their lives in the service of their country.’

Meanwhile, Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins, a former Guild of Students President in Aberystwyth University, has called on Neath and Port Talbot Council to follow Aberystwth’s example. ‘I hope Councils all over Wales heedBethan’s call,’ said Lotte Reimer of AP&JN.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Video of white poppy wreath-laying at Canada's National War Monument, Ottawa, Ontario, on Nov. 11, 2008:

This wreath was laid in an alternative ceremony which took place at 12:30 p.m. (45 minutes after the official ceremony was over).

Approximately 20 people attended, three of whom were Royal Canadian Legion members. There were no objections to the alternative ceremony. I believe it is the hope that one day the white poppy wreath can be laid as part of the formal ceremony.

For info about Ottawa white poppy events, contact Brenda Vellino at brenda_carr(at)carleton.ca or Ian Harvey at mmediamaniac(at)yahoo.com.