One year after Uvalde, the City of Haddonfield continues to arm its children, while Haddonfield Monthly Meeting hosted its very first "Colonial Quaker Day."
The so-called "skirmish" is a predominantly fictional historical reenactment of a battle supposedly fought on Haddonfield's center street. I say "predominantly fictional" because most of the story they want you to believe doesn't align with actual historic events. This may seem like a strange thing to do for a historical renactment, but it doesn't stop there. The story they tell you fails to capture the gruesome reality of dismembered children that would have littered the streets had such a battle truly occurred. There were no screaming mothers, no stench of feces from the disemboweled soldiers, or enough blood flowing through the city streets to stain the river red. Nevertheless, Haddonfield Monthly Meeting took part in this spectacle last year.
Last year was the second attempt at staging this reenactment. Few were aware of the first one, and it didn't attract much attention. However, the organizers had grand plans for the following year. They saw it as an excellent opportunity for the meeting to engage with the town, share our perspective, dispel the misconception that we are a mere museum, and invite potential seekers to discover our faith. There was considerable interest in touring the meeting house, and we had organized activities for children. Even I had the honor of donning the cloak of Quaker John Redman who was, in a dramatic street profomance, arrested for refusing to sign an "oath of allegiance." As Quakers cannot take oaths, Redman was promptly detained right there on the street. While the historical accuracy of this particular skit may be questionable, I must admit feeling a sense of pride. I delivered lines about the dangers of assault weapons in civilian hands and advocated for reproductive rights. The applause was abundant, and in every picture I wanted to share online to showcase my talent, I stood silhouetted by an armory selling "children's training weapons."
It was a mistake—a mistake borne out of ignorance but nonetheless devastating.
This year, Haddonfield Monthly Meeting decided to break away and distance itself from the town's planning committee. They went so far as to deny them the right to list our building or events on the skirmish map or any town-sponsored publicity. Simultaneously, they aimed to offer people an alternative to the violence prevalent elsewhere by organizing a separate event.
Haddonfield Monthly Meeting's independent celebration of Colonial Quaker Day drew a diverse crowd, including approximately 200 children who delighted in visiting the petting zoo. Moreover, around 100 individuals actively participated in enlightening graveyard tours and engaged in an enthralling graveyard scavenger hunt. The demonstration meetings for worship, which provided visitors with an immersive Quaker experience, captivated an audience of 50-60 attendees. Additionally, 20 children enthusiastically joined in various games specially designed for their enjoyment. Notably, the Peace Tables offered a crucial service by inspecting and removing toy weapons, ensuring a safe and harmonious atmosphere for all participants.
In total, this alternative event garnered substantial support, with at least 200 visitors making their way to the historic meeting house through the horseshoe drive. The success of Haddonfield Monthly Meeting's independent celebration stands as a testament to the community's yearning for peaceful engagement and a deeper understanding of our Quaker heritage.