The armed forces have been accused of whitewashing their image with “family fun” events around the UK this Saturday. The Peace Pledge Union warned that Armed Forces Day events routinely present war and weapons as clean and exciting.
The rainstorm of almost tropical ferocity which swept across West Suffolk yesterday afternoon (28 June) was dying down as we assembled for a silent Peace Vigil to mark Armed Forces Day. But the distant thundery grumbles seemed – at the risk of being mocked for the use of Pathetic Fallacy – to be a reminder of the persistence and ubiquity of strife.
A new report from Quaker Peace & Social Witness describes Armed Forces Day as one strand in a government strategy to reverse falling recruitment and declining public support for military interventions.
“Gross impiety it is that a nation's pride should be maintained in the face of its poor.” William Penn wrote these words in 1669. We have no means of knowing what his voice might have sounded like when he read them aloud, as he undoubtedly would have done, but when I hear them in my mind's ear, they are spoken with firmness and a touch of anger. They are words we do well to heed in our own time.