Manchester, 29 September 2013

Manchester, 29 September 2013

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rochdale heroes honoured on International Conscientious Objector Day

Members of Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group joined with other peace activists from around Greater Manchester on Thursday evening (15 May 2014) to mark International Conscientious Objector Day. At a ceremony organised by the Friends of Manchester Peace Gardens as part of the No Glory Campaign, they held flowers representing individuals who had refused to be conscripted to fight in the First World War. These included local men such as George Herbert Nedderman, the Rochdale teacher and Deeplish resident who although awarded the Croix de Guerre for his bravery as a member of the Friends Ambulance Unit. As a member of the FAU, George rescued injured British and French servicemen and French civilians, but refused to play any part in the killing of others. (See also Rochdale Observer, p22, 10 May 2014.)

As part of the ceremony, Rae Street from Littleborough read Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, Last Post and Pat Sanchez from High Peak, read Edna St Vincent Millay’s poem, Conscientious Objector, including the lines, “I shall die, but that is all I shall do for death; I am not on his payroll. I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends nor of my enemies either. Though he promise me much, I will not map him the route to any man’s door.”

Patricia Gilligan on behalf of the peace group said,

“We are proud of all those who stand up against violence. Many Conscientious Objectors were imprisoned, some were court-martialled and too many died in defence of their right not to be forced to kill others. This was happening in Britain a century ago, but today, in many parts of the world, poverty and peer pressure still drive people to become forced killers and countries are still imprisoning citizens who refuse to be conscripted. We must support all those who refuse to fight and honour those who refuse to kill, wherever they are.”