On Saturday 25 June, the UK's ministers, generals, admirals and arms dealers will again whip up support for war and militarism with their annual Armed Forces Day celebrations.
Armed Forces Day promotes uncritical praise of the military and tries to sweep difficult questions under the carpet. It presents children with an image of war and weapons as glamorous and exciting. You can find out more about Armed Forces Day with our briefing What’s Wrong With Armed Forces Day?
Thankfully, there are many people prepared to speak out against this! On the same day as Armed Forces Day, members and allies of the Peace Pledge Union will join a Day of Action to challenge militarism.
As it happens, this coincides with an international day of action for peace in Ukraine. We suggest that to end wars - and to prevent future wars - we need to resist the militaristic ideas and structures that uphold and justify them.
There are many ways to join the day of action. Here are three of them:
1. Take action in your community
There are over 150 events taking place to celebrate Armed Forces Day, ranging from military marches to so-called “family fun days”. Over a quarter of the events listed on the official AFD website include activities aimed at children and young people. In recent years, AFD events have seen children as young as 6 or 7 invited to handle real weapons.
If you find there’s an event near you, we encourage you to take the opportunity to speak out against it and call for the community to celebrate better values instead! We can provide you with postcards to hand out declaring that “War Is Not Family Entertainment”, and flyers highlighting the abusive nature of the armed forces. We’re also happy to give you advice and encouragement and to put you in touch with others.
If there is no event in your area, there are – sadly – likely to be other manifestations of militarism not too far away.
You can also write to your local paper, call a radio phone-in or ask your local council why they are funding celebrations of militarism. You can urge them to host a Community Day or Public Service Day instead, and to hold military leaders to account.
Protests against Armed Forces Day are planned in Manchester, London and smaller towns including Bury St Edmunds and Huddersfield. If you plan to take action locally, please tell us about it! Also, please get in touch if you want more details on a protest or vigil that's already been planned. You can reach us on 020 7424 9444 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Protest at the National Event in Scarborough
As well as all the local events a “National Event” for Armed Forces Day is held in a different town or city each year. This year it will be in Scarborough.
While most people will join protests in their own areas, some usually travel to the National Event to protest. However, the rail strike means that it will be difficult for people from outside the area to travel there, but there are local people in the North Yorkshire area who are determined to speak out!
The Peace Pledge Union is working with local people to ensure that the event does not go unchallenged and that the horrors of everyday militarism – small children handling machine guns, triumphalist parades, misleading claims about the military – are observed, photographed and filmed.
As the rail strike means that the protest in Scarborough will be small-scale, we are likely to hand out leaflets in different places at different times, so are not advertising a meeting place. If you want to join us in Scarborough, please call us on 020 7424 9444, email us at email@example.com or tweet us at @PPUtoday.
3 Take action online
Many people will use social media to challenge militarism on 25 June. You can use hashtags such as #EverydayMilitarism to highlight what is going on, as well as #ArmedForcesDay so that your posts are seen by more people.
Of course, you can also post about the issue on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter in the run-up to the day. You could tweet your local council to ask if they’re hosting Armed Forces Day events, how they’re funding them and whether the forces will be allowed to invite children to handle weapons.
We also encourage you to contact Tesco! They are the lead sponsor of the Armed Forces Day National Event in Scarborough. Members and allies of the Peace Pledge Union are tweeting @Tesco to ask the company how they feel about small children handling weapons – and why they are sponsoring an event with so little concern for the welfare of children.
Please get in touch!
Please contact us on 020 7424 9444 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if:
- You are planning an event to challenge militarism and Armed Forces Day: we can put the details on our website.
- You would like postcards and flyers to hand out at protests.
- You would like advice about organising a protest, vigil or other event, or in contacting your local media.
- You are interested in protesting at the Armed Forces Day National Event in Scarborough or at one of the other local protests.
- You have heard about Armed Forces Day events in your area, or at a school, university or workplace, and you want us to be aware of them.
Keep in touch!