Friday, 9 November 2012

Our Chance to Pay Tribute

The men and women who serve in Britain’s Armed Forces make enormous sacrifices to protect our country. They are central not just to our national security but our national character. Remembrance Sunday provides us each with the opportunity to honour all those who have given their lives in the defence of our country and to support today’s Service community.

The Armed Forces make a unique contribution to our country and we saw this most recently during the Olympics. When the greatest show on earth was at risk it was our Forces who stepped in, many still with the sand of Afghanistan in their boots.  The professionalism with which they acted made us all proud and impressed the world as they helped deliver the best Olympics ever.

But it is in military operations that their courage and contribution is most apparent.  We were reminded of this during the conflict in Libya, where the slaughter of innocents at the hands of a tyrant was halted, and we see it in Afghanistan where today there are 9,500 dedicated, patriotic service personnel.  Their actions seek to provide stability for those whose names and stories they do not know, in the knowledge that we as a country have responsibilities beyond our borders and that our security at home is dependent on those who serve overseas.

We all know that servicemen and women’s struggles, sacrifices and courage do not end when they leave the battlefield.  Whether through injury, trauma or even prejudice, huge challenges exist for veterans on their return.  These are issues that must unite all political parties and all sections of society. Whether in increasing support for those with mental health problems, supporting service children, helping veterans find work or tackling discrimination against those in uniform, we all have a duty to respect, honour and thank our service community.

That is why Remembrance Sunday is so important.  We have the chance to honour those whose lives have been lost and to pay tribute to those who put their lives on the line in the name of national security and solidarity. Our Forces have shaped our history, just as they can shape our future.

This goes beyond just wearing a poppy.  It’s about a year-round national attitude that seeks to give members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families the care and support they deserve.

I’m proud that so many of my constituents in Chatham & Aylesford choose to serve their community and their country so bravely, which is why I’ll be attending the Remembrance event in Chatham on Sunday where everybody will be paying tribute to all those in the Armed Forces who continue to serve us so well.

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