As one who served in Her Majesty’s armed forces for 20 years, today’s the day I and many others, with or without direct military experience, take some time to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country since the First World War.
Some of my buddies in a requisitioned trawler in the South Atlantic during the Falklands War. We were cross-decking from the QE2 to warships to make our journey into San Carlos Water, or ‘Bomb Alley’ as it was known. From the warships we boarded landing craft to make the final stage of our journey ashore. In case you’re wondering, refreshments are not served in landing craft.
Pride in one’s nation and the idea that a nation can or should have an identity at all have become contentious concepts in recent years. Setting that contention to one side for a moment, the fact is that the United Kingdom as we know it today – with its freedom-loving and, yes, predominantly tolerant citizens – is the way it is as much as anything because so many British people, along with our allies, gave their lives in conflict so that we may enjoy our lives as we do today. Life is so precious, and a life lived in freedom is especially sweet, don’t we know. There is nothing in the least bit glorious about warfare, but there can be a just cause.
With everything that’s going on in our country today, now more than ever we need to find common cause. For me, that common cause should be for us Brits to be thankful that we can if we want, despite everything, muddle through inelegantly without resorting to civil war. Let’s use our freedom in all its forms, of speech, of the press and of association to forge a peaceful future for our children. Make your points to your friends: be civil; be polite; listen; but, whatever you do, keep your friendship.
To all those who served before me, and with me, and since, and who gave their lives so that I and my family and friends are free today, thank you so much.
Rachel Bostock’s rendition of ‘The Last Post’ is exquisite.
‘At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them‘