In a time when stories of war and conflict increasingly dominate the news headlines, 11 November offers a moment for reflection, silence, remembrance and hope. We remember those who lost their lives, and reflect on the sacrifice they and their families made. The powerful symbol of the red poppy unites everyone in silence and speaks for all the human lives that have been lost because of war, both in 1914 and in every conflict since.
Our eyes might gaze across the names carved into stone memorial walls, or along the rows of headstones marking the final resting places of those brave men and women. They might rest upon an individual name, wonder at how young the person was, and ask – how was this person so brave as to sacrifice their life for a cause greater than themselves? We might cast our eyes upon rows of poppy flowers and hear the mournful tune of the trumpets penetrating the collective silence and calling our attention to the need to remember and learn from the past. We might shiver in the crisp autumn weather, caught in emotional tension between the challenges so many men and women have faced, and the bravery and determination they showed in the face of conflict and war.
But amongst this sombre gathering there will be a candle, lit as a symbol of light and hope, burning brightly through the darkness. This is the individual flame of human spirit that cannot be extinguished no matter what it is faced with. This is the captain who sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his platoon, the soldier who saved his comrade from death, the nurse who worked tirelessly through the night to heal the wounds of an injured pilot. But it is also the work of those who build peace today, so there may be fewer wars in the future. Among them are Peace Direct’s partners today, working tirelessly in the field to make their world a better place.It is Envision training women and schools in conflict resolution in Zimbabwe, Landry Ninteretse dissuading teenagers from political violence in Burundi, and Gulalai Ismail ensuring women can vote freely in Pakistan.
So in those two minutes of silence, carve out a moment to think of all those working to support peacebuilding efforts in countries where societies have been torn apart by conflict. Think of those brave and dedicated individuals we support, who move beyond the cycle of violence and work to rebuild communities, families and livelihoods. They are heroes too – heroes for today and tomorrow. Here at Peace Direct we support what they do. If you would like to support them too, please share this message to your friends, so that the good work that is being today to end wars can gather wider support. Together we can strengthen hope and peace for people living in conflict and war all over the world today.