Request from Propeace group to take part in Remembrance commemorations
9 October 2017 at 9:31am
We've received a request from the local ProPeace group who have requested permission to join in with the Remembrance Parade and Service and place a wreath of white poppies. We're not sure how to handle the request as whatever we decide we will likely be causing an upset for one group. They have joined in with commemorations in the past and caused a bit of upset last time for wanting to parade with a banner which was refused as only standards are allowed on the parade. Has anyone else had involvement from ProPeace groups in the past or has any advice on this issue?
9 October 2017 at 11:04am
Always a tricky one and, in responding, I am aware we are on an open forum, so anyone can read this. This is not a definitive answer either, so hopefully others will comment and you can pick and choose to create something suitable for your specific circumstances.
In principle I would have no problem with a pro-peace group taking part in Remembrance Day. A key feature of 21st century remembrance is peace and reconciliation, so it is appropriate that they are included, should they request a presence. Where diplomacy, tact and negotiation come in, is the level and profile of their involvement.
Remembrance Sunday is a civic event, based on a template created by Churches Together, with the RBL as a key partner. It was made very clear at our event in March that local services are civic not RBL events, but I wouldn't want to organise one without their full co-operation!
One obvious visible symbol of the partnership is the red poppy, perhaps the most widely respected emblem of any charity in the country. The placing of poppy wreaths on war memorials is a key part of remembrance, being laid by monarchs, politicians, military and civil organisations and individuals, who all conform and purchase those wreaths from the RBL, who ensure the revenue is spent appropriately.
This makes the placing of white poppies inappropriate and in some cases offensive. The revenue from them, as far as I can ascertain, funds the work of the Peace Pledge Union, which is a significantly narrower remit than the RBL.
The banning of anything invites publicity of course, and I speak from experience that letters to the newspapers and social media trends will result. That is why you should accommodate the group on exactly the same terms as the dozens of others who participate. Parade as a civilian organisation and lay a RBL poppy wreath. You cannot prevent individuals in the watching public from unfurling banners, but the wider public who are there are similarly free to comment on its content!
One last point. Do you have any form of Peace garden within your local authority boundary? If so, perhaps you could work with the group to create a temporary display about their work, to explain the significance of the white poppy? I would recommend some research to ensure you give similar opportunity to other groups who focus on peace, to achieve proper balance. There are many of them as a quick web search will demonstrate.
As I said at the outset, the above is not an answer - rather a prompt for others to put forward a view.
Hope it helps.
9 October 2017 at 11:11am
If you send me your e-mail address I can let you have further information.