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PEACE GARDENS IN OUR TIME

28-05-2008

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Barbara Panvel visits one of Birmingham's hidden attractions, and reflects on its meaning.

Have you visited the Peace Garden in Bath Row off Broad Street?

All but arms manufacturers hope for ‘peace in our time’ and the Peace Garden conveys a powerful message.

Its beautiful railings were sculpted by Anuradha Patel and the archway of a bombed church’s tower has become the main entrance. The Colonnade which was near the Hall of Memory stands there now too.

Visitors will see many poignant features in the garden and messages of goodwill from other countries; 50 Hiroshima survivors have presented a cherry tree.

On 11th May International Conscientious Objectors day was celebrated there. Elizabeth Way  writes that there have been over 80,000 conscientious objectors from World War 1 to the present time.

She adds that the names of objectors through the ages were read out, starting with Maximillanus, beheaded for refusing to obey a military command on the 3rd century, including Israeli military personnel who refused to serve in Palestine and coming up to date with a Turkish objector to military service.

People who have incurred sanctions for refusing to kill are regarded as cowards by some, but risking the scorn of others is not an easy road to take. Probably the most highly regarded objectors are those who joined the ambulance service and rescued combatants [on both sides] under fire, sharing the dangers but saving lives rather than taking them.

An American soldier imprisoned for claiming the right to refuse to kill, asked: “What does it say about our nation when we kill innocent Iraqis and torture prisoners?

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Congratulations to the three children and their teacher from nearby St Thomas’ school who first had the idea of creating a peace garden on the bombsite and to many others who contributed funds or artefacts, including members of the armed forces and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and to Birmingham Council for furthering the children’s project, commissioning the sculptor and maintaining the garden.

Pictures courtesy of Anu Patel

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