As autumnal hues painted the cityscape with warm tones, a different kind of colour adorned the landscape on Sunday, 12th November 2023. It marked yet another year of The National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony, held in the heart of London, where a diverse group of peace activists gathered in front of the memorial stone for conscientious objectors in Tavistock Square. Despite the rainy weather, their commitment to a message of peace and remembrance shone brightly, a testament to the enduring significance of this annual event.
At its core, The National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony remains a powerful testament to the original message of the remembrance campaign – to honor the fallen while pledging 'never again.' This annual gathering encourages us to remember those who fought for our country and urges us to get involved in campaigns that actively work towards the promised commitment to peace.
The ceremonies also serve as a reminder to honour the bravery of those who chose not to fight. Remembering the courage of war encompasses acknowledging those who were bullied, imprisoned, and shot for standing by their conscience and refusing to take up arms. As we reflect on the history of World War I, we also celebrate a milestone moment in the 1916 Military Service Act, which legalised the right of conscientious objection.
The event featured inspirational speakers, each bringing a unique perspective on the pursuit of peace:
Isabel Kelly - The Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF): Isabel shared a message from PCFF, a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation comprising over 600 families who have lost a family member to the ongoing conflict. Her efforts with the UK support group aim to raise awareness of the PCFF and foster understanding.
Pat Gaffney - Pax Christi: As vice president of Pax Christi and a member of Women in Black London, Pat spoke about Pax Christi's ongoing work with peace campaigners in Israel and Palestine. Her insights shed light on the unfolding situation in the West Bank, emphasising the importance of global collaboration for lasting peace.
Richard Kuper - Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JJP): Richard, representing JJP, an organisation deeply involved in recent demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, highlighted the need for lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. JJP advocates for justice, mutual recognition, and respect, aiming to end the occupation and blockade of Gaza.