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British Legion changes policy to include civilians in Remembrance

Red and white poppy wreaths in Bath in 2018

British Legion changes policy to include civilians in Remembrance

The Peace Pledge Union has welcomed a decision by the Royal British Legion to promote remembrance for civilians for the first time.

The British Legion’s website on Remembrance now states, “We acknowledge innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism”. Up until last year, the Legion insisted that Remembrance Sunday should be concerned only with UK and allied armed forces personnel.

The change in position appears to be a response to criticism from various quarters in recent years, including from the Peace Pledge Union, who produce white poppies and advocate remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities. 

While the shift in the British Legion’s position can be seen through the changed text on their website, they do not appear to have made a public announcement or to acknowledge that they have changed their policy. The Legion are best known for their production of red poppies in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

The Peace Pledge Union, who advocate Remembrance for all victims of war, welcomed the Legion’s new policy as a good step in the right direction. 

However, they noted that the Legion still only uses the word “acknowledge” in reference to civilians, but “remember” when referring to armed forces personnel.

The PPU urged the Legion to go further and promote remembrance for people of all nationalities affected by war. They also expressed disappointment that the Legion is still suggesting that all UK troops killed in war have died to “defend our freedoms”. The PPU urged the organisers of remembrance events to replace the celebration of military marches with a focus on building peace.

The PPU’s white poppies represent remembrance for all victims of war of all nationalities, a commitment to peace and a rejection of militarism.