Ian Runciman and I were unable to join the rest of Veterans For Peace UK in London on Wednesday, so we decided to stand in solidarity a little closer to home at Newcastle’s Monument Square where we held a vigil with Newcastle Stop the War (NSTW) campaign.
It was a sombre occasion for all and one that commenced with a minutes silence to remember not only the 179 service personnel needlessly killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq but also for those of the Iraqi people who have suffered and continued to suffer daily for the decisions made and actions of US and UK foreign policy.
We heard many speeches including that of NSTW secretary Alex Snowdon and our very own Ian Runciman but the stand out speech was delivered by Chandni Chopra, member of NSTW steering committee. An impassioned and from the heart delivered address which reminded us all of the horrors of the Iraq war and those who yet still somehow manage to evade justice for the millions dead and displaced since 2003.
Personally, I’d attempted to distance myself from my own singular involvement in Iraq in the hope that if I pushed it to the furthest recesses of my conscience then it somehow didn’t occur. No doubt this was a sentiment shared on Wednesday by all veterans involved in Iraq. Gulf War veteran isn’t a badge I wear with any pride or honour but it’s a part of who I am. Once you’ve identified and understood that, then and only then can you push forward to promote peace and attempt to educate those unaffected by war to the true nature of it in the hope we can prevent it happening again.
We exist in the hope of convincing you that war is not the solution
Daniel Lenham served in the RAF he is a member of Veterans For Peace UK.