Veterans For Peace United Kingdom on …
This is a must read, trust us.
Our Veterans For Peace UK brothers are now reporting back, with a documentary film yet to come, on their late-October 2014 trip to Northern Ireland. Several of the lads served there during “the Troubles.”
From the introduction to the VFP UK trip reports:
On the 23rd of October 8 members of Veterans For Peace UK started a 4 day journey across the North of Ireland/Northern Ireland in order to meet with people and organisations drawn from communities which our group had previously been deployed against as soldiers. Our aim was to gain a greater understanding of the conflict we had been involved in and to reach out to former enemies. Here are the personal recollections of the veterans who attended the trip.
This trip was not only cathartic, but healing for the relationship between the Republican-leaning public and the soldiers who served in their midst in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Several things jump out of these reflections by the members of the visiting VFP team.
First, the N. Ireland trip bears similarities in intent and results to the trips many American VFP members take to Viet Nam to find inner peace, reconcile with the victims of the American War there and for many other reasons. Learn how to participate in the Viet Nam trips with VFP Hoa Binh Chapter 160 here.
Second, the similarities with the Viet Nam trips end when you realize that there is still a fair bit of tension between Republicans (nationalists) and Unionists (loyalists) in N. Ireland. Parades, flags and banners, for example, are continued sources of animosity and conflict that groups such as the Panel of Parties in the NI (Northern Ireland) Executive are working to resolve, along with a fair process of truth and reconciliation. A good review and update by the Council on Foreign Relations on the Troubles can be found here. If anyone has a better and unbiased source for this info please post as a comment here. Thanks.
In our view, this trip by the VFP UK fellas took a ton of courage to present themselves as British veterans to victims, their families and those who still harbor a lot of animosity toward anything British because of the violence attributed to their soldiers.
One comment by team member and current Belfast resident Lee Lavis really struck a chord. It seems so perfectly applicable to much of the work that we do as peace activists:
I am of the firm opinion that the building of peace can only be achieved through the development of communicative mechanisms, which recognise and transcend differences in culture, lived experience, and ideological beliefs.
Please take a few minutes to read these very moving accounts of the trip. We look forward to further reports and applaud our mates in the UK for making important personal investments in peace and reconciliation.