“These are my medals, these were given to me as a reward for invading other peoples’ countries and murdering their civilians. I’m now handing them back.”
Earlier in the year, three members of the UK’s Veterans For Peace made a public protest that received very little media coverage, returning their Oaths of Allegiance, military berets and medals they had won.
The veterans lined up outside Downing Street in front of police barricades and Ben Griffin, who served in both the Parachute Regiment and the elite special forced unit, the Special Air Service (SAS) led with this statement:
“We are members of Veterans For Peace UK, an ex-services organisation of men and women who have served this country in every conflict since the second world war. We exist in the hope of convincing you that war is not the solution to the problems of the 21st century. We have come here today to hand back things, given to us as soldiers, that we no longer require or want.”
The men then threw their Oaths of Allegiance and their berets to the ground as a symbol of their rejection of violence. “I used to wear this hat as a soldier, it used to have great significance to me. I no longer want to keep hold of this symbol of militarism,” said Griffin.
John Boulton, who served in the Armoured Corps and was deployed in Cyprus and Afghanistan removed his medals, saying “These are the medals given to me for the sick dichotomy of keeping the peace and waging war. They are trinkets, pseudo payments. But really all they represent is the self-interest of those in there, who hold power”
Kieran Devlin, formally a Royal Engineer who was active in the Gulf War and Northern Ireland put his medals to the ground, saying, “These are my medals, these were given to me as a reward for invading other peoples’ countries and murdering their civilians. I’m now handing them back.”
They were finally joined by Griffin, who added: “I was given these medals for service on operations with the British Army. This particular medal here was given to me for my part in the occupation of Iraq. Whilst I was over there, I attacked civilians in their homes and took away their men, off to be tortured in prison. I no longer want these despicable things.”
The three veterans then walked away from Downing Street leaving the oaths, berets and medals lying scattered on the floor.
Veterans For Peace is a voluntary ex-services organisation of men and women who have served in every war that Britain has fought since World War 2.
They aim to:
- Educate young people on the true mature of military service and war
- Resist war and militarism through non-violent action
- Stand in solidarity with people resisting military and war.
They hope to convince people that war is not the answer to the problems of the 21st century.