June 22, 2009

Quakers call for ‘Unarmed Forces Day’


by David Masters

As cities and towns across the country prepare to spend this Saturday celebrating the efforts of Britain’s armed forces, a Christian group has called for the day to also celebrate the efforts of non-violent peacemakers.

Armed Forces Day, 27 June, is billed as “an opportunity for the nation to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.”

Thousands of flags manufactured by the Ministry of Defence to commemorate the day have already sold out, and over 150 celebration events across the UK have been planned.

The British Quakers, however, said the day should also be used to recognise “the essential work carried out by peacebuilders around the world.”

Kat Barton, Quaker spokesperson, said: “At a time when public finances are under enormous pressure, instead of celebrating ‘Armed Forces Day’ Gordon Brown should be investing in conflict prevention and championing the work of the ‘unarmed forces’ who work tirelessly to build the conditions for peace.”

Founded as a Christian sect in the 1600s, Quakers believe that working towards peace is integral to the Christian faith.

This year will mark the first ever celebrations of Armed Forces Day, which has been placed on the calendar to coincide with Veterans Day.

Some commentators have argued that Armed Forces Day has more to do with exonerating the government’s poor decisions to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan than respecting the work of soldiers.

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