Towns and cities across the UK will today be ‘celebrating’ Armed Forces
Day. Many councils hold these events as signatories to the Armed Forces
Community Covenant; almost every local authority has now pledged support
to the armed forces in perpetuity, and hundreds of businesses,
charities, and even schools have signed the Armed Forces Corporate
Many of today’s events are packaged as ‘family fun’ with military
vehicles and weaponry to entice young people, and cadet and armed forces
careers marketing to recruit them. War is not family entertainment.
The school assembly packs on offer from the Ministry of Defence display
a breath-taking economy with the truth about the purpose and
consequences of military action.
Rather than institutionalising public support for the armed forces we
should stop selling war to children through sanitised celebration of the
military and the promotion of ‘military ethos’ in schools. It is
unacceptable for the UK to be the only country in the EU to still
recruit 16 year olds into the armed forces, defying the growing
international consensus against child recruitment. As one of the
thousands of signatories of our petition to change the law said,
‘Children should be protected from conflict, not incorporated in it’.
Pat Gaffney, Pax Christi UK
Emma Sangster, ForcesWatch
Ben Griffin, Veterans for Peace UK
Bruce Kent, Abolition of War
Matt Jeziorski, Peace Education Network
Claire Poyner, Network for Peace
Philip Austin, Northern Friends Peace Board
Brian Larkin, Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre
To glorify war in any way, whatsoever, is morally wrong and those who justify sending our young men off to kill one another, evil.
My own father was sent to the front while still a teenager in world war 2. He survived in body but his mind was never the same after and in consequence took his own life when I was a teenager.
I hold them responsible for his death as well as the heart ache it caused my mother and sisters.
I remember him saying when I asked him before I knew any better ” how many Germans did you kill dad,”
He answered “None. I hope I didn’t hate the German troops they were just following orders like me.”
In NH (USA), there once lived one of the original flag-raisers on Okinawa during WW II. His name was Rene A. Gagnon. Some years after the war had ended, someone asked him about that war. He replied: “Don’t glorify war. There is no Glory in it.” He was right as Veterans for Peace are correct today in expressing that same sentiment. “Wage Peace!”