Every year, Armed Forces Day glosses over the vicious realities of war and militarism and presents children with an image of warfare as glamorous and fun.
Military parades and "fun days" are held in towns and cities around the UK, with primary school-aged children invited to handle real weapons as if they were toys. A National Event for Armed Forces Day is held in a different place each year.
In 2023, Armed Forces Day is taking place on Saturday 24 June, with a National Event in Falmouth and hundreds of other events elsewhere. The week leading up to 24 June is presented as "Armed Forces Week", which includes events taking place in schools.
Want to resist everyday militarism on Armed Forces Day? Here are some ideas!
Resist in your local area
There are military parades, "fun days" and other alarming events held around the UK. You can check out the Armed Forces Day website to see if there is one in your area. If there is, you can:
- Ask us to send you some postcards to hand out on the day, perhaps as the parade goes past or outside where an event is taking place. They say 'War Is Not Family Entertainment", summarise the problems with Armed Forces Day and suggest celebrating better things instead. If you want postcards, please drop us a line at email@example.com or on 020 7424 9444. We'll get them to you as soon as we can.
- You can join a protest or leafleting session that is already organised: you can find out more on our Events Page.
- Write to your local paper or call a radio phone-in to raise your concerns. You might find it helpful to consult our briefing What's Wrong With Armed Forces Day? Please let us know if you receive any ressponse.
- Ask your local council or councillor how much they are spending on Armed Forces Day celebrations and whether they will consider celebrating a Peace Day, or Community Day, or similar next year instead. Please let us know if you receive a response!
Resist in your school
If you are a parent, school student or teacher, please let us know if your school is celebrating Armed Forces Day. This is very useful for us to know! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7424 9444.
We can provide you with alternative materials for school or help you raise your concerns with the headteacher.
Resist the National Event in Falmouth
The National Event for Armed Forces Day is held in a different town or city every year. This year it will be in Falmouth in Cornwall.
Local people in the Falmouth area have done a great job of organising a series of events in the days leading up to Armed Forces Day, including a Peace Parade on the day itself, as the military parade takes place. Whether you live locally or want to travel to Falmouth to join protests, you can find out more here about planned protests and other events, including a showing of the film War School on Thursday 22 June, a peace vigil on Friday 23 June and a Peace Parade and other events on the day itself, Saturday 24 June.
Miltiarists will be taking to social media to push their message on Armed Forces Day - but we'll be there too! We want to ensure that people who look at the hashtag #ArmedForcesDay will see challenges to the day instead of just praise for militarism and for the message that Armed Forces Day pushes to children and young people.
- You can follow the Peace Pledge Union on Twitter (@PPUtoday), Facebook (facebook.com/peacepledgeunion) and Instagram (@PeacePledgeUnion). Other groups who will be challenging the day include Forces Watch and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).
- Please use the hashtags #ArmedForcesDay, #EverydayMilitarrism and (where it concerns children handling weapons) #KidsWithGuns.
- Please post polite but firm messages challenging what people are being told on Armed Forces Day. You might want to focus on the fact that children are presented with a glamorised image of war and armed force, and that there is literally no age limit for children being invited to handle real weapons (except in Leicester, where a successful local campaign means that the military cannot invite anyone under 16 to handle weapons). You might also highlight the realities of war and armed forces, and the shocking levels of abuse within the armed forces. You might find it helpful to look at our briefing What's Wrong With Armed Forces Day?
Keep in touch!
It is very helpful to us to know more about your experience when you speak out against Armed Forces Day. Please let us know! You are also welcome to get in touch with questions, suggestions or information. You can reach us at email@example.com or on 020 7424 9444.