Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, UK charity Peace Pledge Union has released an activity pack designed with co-op Woodcraft Folk to educate children and young people about white poppies.
PPU says the activities encourage reflection and discussion on themes surrounding remembrance and white poppies. They are designed for a wide range of age groups.
The pack was released alongside a White Poppy Wreath Kit, which is aimed at groups and individuals planning or attending remembrance ceremonies. The kit contains 25 white poppies, a rattan wreath support and wire to attach the white poppies. The wreath uses the eco-friendly white poppies, which are plastic-free and biodegradable but, says PPU, will survive well outdoors for several weeks.
Those ordering the kit will also receive the new activity pack. A limited number of wreath kits are available for free to Woodcraft Folk groups. A discount code is available via the Woodcraft Folk newsletter, which goes out to all groups. Groups wishing to find out more can email [email protected]
The white poppy
A symbol of peace, the white poppies started being worn by members of the Co-operative Women’s Guild (CWG) in 1933. At the time many of the guild’s members were mourning the loss of their loved ones in WWI and started campaigning for peace. They also wanted to organise an alternative Remembrance Day, due to the growing militarisation of Remembrance events.
Rose Simpson, general secretary of the Guild, wrote in 1938: “The Women’s Co-operative Guild has no quarrel with the red Flanders poppy of Remembrance, but they adopted the white poppy as their peace emblem, to be worn on Armistice Day, and throughout Armistice Week because they are pledged to do all they can to prevent another war.
“The white poppy is not a piece of political propaganda, it is a pledge to peace that war will never happen again.”
The oldest pacifist organisation in Britain, PPU adopted the white poppies in 1934 and has been producing them ever since.
Calling for a ceasefire in Gaza
This year, the charity is calling for an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, while denouncing “all acts of war”.
“The violence inflicted on Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The taking of hostages from Southern Israel. The bombing of Palestinian homes, hospitals and places of worship. The PPU has joined voices from across the peace movement in condemning all acts of violence, including the attacks by Hamas, the Israeli military response, as well as the decades-long system of Israeli occupation and apartheid,” it said. “We denounce all acts of war and join the call for an urgent ceasefire. Now more than ever, we must stand up for peace and recognise the true human cost of war.”
Alternative Remembrance Ceremony
PPU holds a National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony in Tavistock Square, London at noon on 12 November. The event will include a message from the Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF), a joint Israeli-Palestinian organisation of over 600 families, all of whom have lost an immediate family member to the conflict. Other events will also take place across the UK, all of which are listed on PPU’s website.
Participants will observe two minutes’ silence and white poppy wreaths will be laid on the memorial in memory of all victims of war.
Co-ops considering hosting a remembrance event featuring white poppies can email [email protected] or phone 020 7424 9444.
Remembrance Sunday ceremony
The Royal British Legion’s National Service of Remembrance will be held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on 12 November. The annual event commemorates British and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, together with members of the emergency services and civilians. The ceremony is attended by members of the royal family, members of the cabinet, opposition party leaders, former prime ministers, the mayor of London, representatives of the armed forces, fishing fleets, merchant air and navy, faith communities and high commissioners of Commonwealth countries.