Click HERE or see below to read my latest column in the Gazette & Herald and Wiltshire Times about the importance of remembering those who have died or suffered during conflict in service of our country.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the signing of the Armistice to signal the end of World War One, “the War to end all Wars”, on the 11th November 1918. Ninety-eight years later we come together will fall silent to commemorate Armistice Day and remember those who have died serving their country since the beginning of the First World War, honouring those who have died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.
King George V started the tradition of the silence so that “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”. Services will be held across the country and I will attend as many as possible across the constituency on both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
I use the periods of silence not only to think of those who gave their lives for our freedom and democracy, but those who serve in our armed forces today and to pay thanks that we live in a fair, free and tolerant society which couldn’t be further removed from other areas on our planet which are ravaged by war.
The Royal British Legion do an amazing job. Their Poppy Appeal raises about £40 million a year – valuable funds that are used to support programmes supporting ex-Servicemen and women – young and old – and their families. It provides financial advice, deals with creditors, offers counselling services and helps with benefits claims, grants and loans. Last year, it was able to write off £18.3 million of debt for ex-Servicemen and women, helping almost 3,500 households.
Two weeks ago, I used my weekly article to discuss homelessness and the Government’s new strategy for tackling it. It is a sad and shocking fact that ex-service personnel account for one in 10 rough sleepers across the UK. 9,000 people who served to protect our country are now homeless and in need of support.
The RBL are there to pick up the pieces from failings in the Government’s support network for ex-service personnel. The ‘Armed Forces Covenant’ sets out the relationship between the nation, the Government and the armed forces. It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.
It should not be necessary for a charity to collect money to meet the medical and social needs of those who served in the military; this should be the responsibility of the Government. Of all of us.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Two minutes to stand and reflect. Lest We Forget.