picnicker | 26.05.2008 18:52 | Anti-militarism
We don't usually mark Memorial Day here in Britain. Previously known as Decoration Day, this is a US holiday which remembers American men and women who have died in military service with remembrance ceremonies, parades, services and picnics. Its origins are in the American Civil War, and following World War I the memorial was expanded to include military casualties of any war.
US peace and anti-war groups have broadened the definition still further to include all victims of war, military and civilian, and to call for an end to all wars. It is in solidarity with these groups that we held a Memorial Day Picnic for Peace in Wrexham's Peace Garden today.
Around 20 people braved the very blustery weather to join us. In a sheltered corner of the Peace Garden it was warm enough to sit and eat and chat, the rain held off and there was even some sunshine. Thanks to everyone who brought food to share; special thanks to Wrexham Veggies for the vegan hotdogs and truly delicious vegan homity pie.
The Picnic was ceremoniously closed with a splendid rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star through the megaphone by the youngest members of our group.
More info. about the event below.
Monday 26 May is Memorial Day in the US, the day when Americans remember their war dead.
A Wrexham woman, Bridie Przibram of Moss, will be attending a memorial service in Portland, Oregon in the US, organised by Veterans for Peace. This event will solemnly remember not only the military dead but all those who have suffered from war around the world. At this event, 'From War to Peace', Bridie will read out a message of peace, hope and unity from peace groups in Wrexham. The service will be held at the Memorial Coliseum at the Korean War Wall in Portland, and afterwards participants will walk to Portland's Peace Memorial Park for a Peace Picnic.
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 72 talk about what the event means for them:
"This will be the fifth year VFP 72 has stepped away from the traditional militaristic ceremonies and rhetoric to honor our fallen brothers and sisters in arms, for as General Ulysses S. Grant, eighteenth President of the United States said, 'The one thing I never
want to see again is a military parade'."
Meanwhile, back in Wales and in solidarity with Veterans for Peace, Wrexham Peace and Justice Forum and Wrexham Women for Peace will also be holding a Peace Picnic from 1pm in Wrexham's Peace Garden on Holt Street. Everyone is welcome to come along and join in - there will be vegetarian food to share and co-operative parachute games if the weather permits.
Portland's Peace Memorial Park is "dedicated to the memory of all people everywhere who have ever perished in warfare, in the hope that like-minded people will join with its sponsors and creators in the effort to put an end to war so that humankind can live in peace."
Wrexham's Peace Garden is situated on the site of the former Quaker Meeting House. Quakers have a long history of peace and justice work.
Genny Bove, of Wrexham Peace and Justice Forum and Wrexham Women for Peace explained:
"When Bridie said that she would be in Portland on Memorial Day and attending the VFP memorial event, we were very keen to make links with this peace group and to offer a message of unity. Even a tiny peace group like ours is part of a very large whole, working for peace and justice across the globe, and we feel that it is important to acknowledge and strengthen the links between groups in different towns, countries and continents. This is an ideal opportunity to do so."
Sean Lewis, peace campaigner and war veteran from Portland Oregon, said:
"We are all citizens of our communities, our nations, and the Earth. The goals of a peaceful world can only be achieved through international unity and support among the many thousands grassroots movements world-wide. Veterans for Peace welcomes and shares the message being delivered by Bridie to us this Memorial Day. Its message of solidarity in peace is particularly significant in these times. We are not alone. As US President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, 'I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it."
MESSAGE FROM WPJF AND WWFP
"Our local peace and justice groups in Wrexham, Wales, UK, would like to share a message of peace, hope and unity with Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 in Portland, Oregon on this your Memorial Day. Although so many miles apart, we are connected by a common purpose.
"Our vision is of a just and peaceful world. We aim to make a difference locally and globally through sharing ideas and information, raising awareness and campaigning, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to send you our good wishes and support, to remember with you all those who have died in conflicts around the world, and to stand in solidarity with you and your cause.
"Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum and Wrexham Women for Peace will hold a Picnic for Peace on Monday 26 May in Wrexham's Peace Garden as an expression of our unity with all those who are marking Memorial Day with messages of peace."