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Patriotism not enough, say petitioners

17 January 2014

by a staff reporter


THOUSANDS of people have signed petitions demanding that the image on the new £2 coin, which features Lord Kitchener and his First World War recruiting slogan "Your country needs you", is replaced with an image commemorating the millions of war dead, or a hero or heroine such as Edith Cavell.

The Royal Mint unveiled its range of new coins this month. The £2 coin is to have the famous poster image of Kitchener pointing his finger, alongside the slogan, to mark the anniversary of the First World War this year. But two petitions are calling on the Mint to drop the design, which, they say, which "glorifies war".

The first petition, which has been signed by more than 25,000 people, says: "We can mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War by remembering the dead and working to prevent war. We call on the Royal Mint to withdraw this coin design, and replace it with one that truly commemorates those who died and suffered in the First World War."

Suggestions for an alternative design have been offered by those who have signed the petition so far, and include an image of Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier who fought in the Great War, who died in 2009, or the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

Another petition, launched by a Labour councillor, Sioned-Mair Richards, from Sheffield, is asking for the Royal Mint to put Edith Cavell on the coin.

Trained as a nurse at the London Hospital, Cavell became the first matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels. After the German army invaded Belgium in 1914, Berkendael became a Red Cross hospital for wounded soldiers, regardless of their nationality.

In August 1915, Cavell was arrested by the Germans, and charged with helping about 200 Allied soldiers to escape to neutral Holland. She was tried by court martial, found guilty, and sentenced to death. Despite pressure for mercy, she was shot by a firing squad.

"Kitchener epitomises rampant jingoism," Mrs Richards says. Her petition has gathered more than 30,000 signatures online.

The Christian peacemaking group Fellowship of Reconciliation is also concerned about the image. Its director, Millius Palayiwa, said: "We are very concerned that the launch of the new £2 coin design is in danger of glorifying war, and drawing public attention away from the horrors of the trenches and the continuing need for peace, healing, and reconciliation in the world."


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