Dr Phillip Lee MP: We must never forget those who gave their lives for their countryBy Laura Herbert
November 08, 2012
I can't believe it’s that time of year again.
Whether you want to ‘keep Christmas in December’ or celebrate it as soon as you can each year, the trees are already appearing in shop windows, harassed parents are preparing their children for school plays and parties, husbands and boyfriends are failing miserably in their attempt to buy their significant other that special present, and we’re all feeling the pinch as we spend a little bit more than we would normally.
However, before we get lost in this festive season, it’s important to take a moment at 11am this November 11 to think back 94 years to 1918 and the end of the First World War.
It’s not as cheery a thought as Christmas, but, just as we remember the events that took place in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago on December 25, so we must never forget the millions of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country just under a century ago.
I don’t think that we in 21st century Britain can comprehend the staggering losses that our country suffered in the First World War.
To put it into context, 435 British service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001, 11 years ago.
In the four years from 1914 to 1918, roughly 887,000 British servicemen and 107,000 British civilians died, that’s 994,000 dead.
I can’t wrap my head around that number, except perhaps when I think that Bracknell has a population of roughly 50,000 people and about 820,000 people live in the whole of Berkshire.
It’s not unreasonable to pause for a moment every year to consider these figures.
However, it’s not just those who gave their all in the First World War that we bring to mind on Remembrance Sunday.
We also think about those British service personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in every conflict since 1918.
We have a proud history of standing up against tyranny and dictatorship, which is why we have been involved in countless conflicts since 1918, from the Russian Civil War to the Second World War, from the Irish War of Independence to the war in Vietnam, from the Falklands conflict to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our brave servicemen and women have not sat idly by and watched terrible things happen in the world, but have stepped up to the mark and fought on our behalf to give us a safer and more secure United Kingdom.
This November 11 is particularly special for me because I have the honour of attending the Act of Remembrance at Sandhurst Memorial Park with representatives from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which is celebrating 200 years of training British Army Officers.
Having paid my respects in Sandhurst, I will then parade to the Finchampstead War Memorial to remember the many men and women from our village who laid down their lives for their country.
So, as I end this article and we look forward to Christmas, pause a moment and ponder these words:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.