Quaker children (ages 2 – 11) , in the weeks leading up to International Peace Day on September 21st, learnt about 2 conscientious objectors who over 100 years ago attended the Meeting they themselves attend. The children learnt about Alywnne and Cyril Walmesley, both featured elsewhere on this website. They discovered that white feathers during the first world war had been stuck on conscientious objectors as a symbol of cowardice.
The White Poppy and the White Feather
The children considered what it meant to be brave and heard a story about early Quakers in America who were worshipping in silence when native Americans surrounded their cabin with weapons and murderous intent. But the native Americans were surprised by the worshipful silence, realising that both communities worshipped the ‘Great Spirit’ in the same quiet way, and put down their weapons. They were invited by a brave Quaker to share food, and in return were presented with a white feather. By re-telling stories of the white feather, Quakers are re-claiming the white feather as a symbol of bravery rather than cowardice.
The children shared their knowledge of the symbolism of the red and white poppies, and created a giant White Poppy made of white feathers, both real and cut out of paper.