NEXT week marks the centenary of Britain’s entry into the First World War. As the war falls out of living memory, it is ever more important to remember the millions who died in the conflict, and the hundreds of thousands of British troops who gave their lives fighting for their country.
The Prime Minister rightly reads the names of those British troops who have died in service every week at the start of Prime Minister’s Questions. I sometimes think even the most hardy of statesmen would struggle to read the list of the almost 20,000 British troops who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Over 300,000 more would give their lives in the four and a half months before the battle was over. This was a huge loss of life on an incomprehensible scale.
Mothers, wives and children would have to wait weeks, or months to find out if their loved ones were on the list of casualties.
I was proud to attend Armed Forces Day at Ystrad Mynach to pay my tribute to all our armed forces. Armed Forces Day, previously Veterans Day, was first observed in 2006 as a way of ensuring the contribution of veterans and our armed forces is not forgotten. The public turnout this year was fantastic and shows how much we respect and admire those who dedicate themselves to serving our country both in peace and in times of conflict. It is important that we take time out of our usual routines to remember and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in conflicts around the globe.
I find particularly poignant Edmond’s famous epitaph, “When you go home, Tell them of us and say, For their tomorrow, We gave our today”
Sadly, recent events in Ukraine and the Middle East remind us that men, women and children around the world are still living daily with the consequences of military action. It is estimated around 9 million people are displaced in Syria, and that over 100,000 displaced people are seeking UN sanctuary in Gaza. Organisations such as the British Red Cross are working to provide emergency aid to those in need. To see their current appeals go to www.redcross.org.uk/en/What-we-do/Emergency-response/Current-emergency-appeals