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A white poppy wreath laid at the war memorial in Alexandra Park.

A white poppy wreath laid at the war memorial in Alexandra Park.

Hastings Against War holds remembrance ceremony

On Saturday 9 November Hastings Against War (HAW) held its annual remembrance for all victims of war at the war memorial in Alexandra Park. Local people, including council leader Peter Chowney, gathered to remember the victims, military and civilian alike, before a wreath of white poppies was laid at the memorial. HAW’s John Enefer reports.

At a short service Rona Drennan of HAW related that the white peace poppy can be traced back to the Women’s Co-operative Guild. In 1933 members of the Guild, some of whom had lost loved ones in World War One, were the first to sell the white poppy. In 1934 the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), which campaigns for a ‘warless world’, began distributing the white poppy as an alternative commemoration symbol.

At the service Rona described efforts by the PPU and others to create a different culture of remembrance. She quoted an article by Geoff Tibbs of the PPU in which he describes this culture as being one of “humility, education and deeper understanding. By clearing a space for remembrance of all victims of war on all sides, the white poppy rejects triumphalist narratives of our violent past and challenges perspectives that omit large parts of the world. This encourages us to learn from the past, to question our role in the world and insist on non-violent alternatives to present violent conflicts.”

In Metro online newspaper Symon Hill, campaigns manager of the PPU said recently, “We never say red poppies glorify war – we know many red poppy wearers share many of our values. Instead, we challenge ways in which remembrance is misused to promote a positive image of war or dodgy claims about what war has supposedly achieved.”

Before the wreath was laid Rona said “We lay this wreath of white poppies in remembrance of those who died in uniform, the civilians who died, and those who were left to mourn them.”

The wreath was made entirely out of recycled materials by Lorna Vahey and Jen Painter, two local artists and founder members of HAW.

The group meets at 7pm on the first Tuesday of every month at the Quaker Meeting House, 5 South Terrace, Hastings. HAW is not affiliated to any political party or religious belief. All are welcome to attend the monthly meetings.

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Posted 17:05 Thursday, Nov 14, 2019 In: Campaigns

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