We owe such much to our valiant armed forces – let’s not take them for granted
Remembrance Day is an opportunity for a grateful nation to give thanks to our valiant armed forces past and present. To express our gratitude for the sacrifices they have made in keeping our nation safe.
It’s been said many times in Parliament; we have, arguably, the most professional armed force in the world, revered by our allies and feared by our adversaries.
This is not just because our personnel are highly trained, well equipped, extremely competent, it is because our military occupy a distinguished status in our society that encourages people from all walks of life, and all corners of Britain, to consider signing up and serving their country.
The nation pausing as one to reflect on those lost or injured in battle first started with King George V, marking the fallen after the Great War on the anniversary of Armistice Day in 1919.
Today the laying of wreaths, bowing of heads and the reading of Robert Laurence Binyon’s immortal words “We will remember them” is poignantly replicated in every village, town and city centre across the country.
The folly of the withdrawal from Afghanistan cannot extinguish how our armed forces helped rebuild the country and make it safer
As the size of our armed forces gets smaller compared to previous decades, so does the public’s direct exposure to those who serve. So, Remembrance Day also offers a welcome opportunity to educate a new generation about the contribution, significance and purpose of our armed forces and the role they have played and continue to play defending our standards and values.
However, this time as communities come together, perhaps there will be some confused – even angry – emotions about the sacrifices made for Queen and country given our withdrawal from Afghanistan.
What was it all for? This cannot be how we ever expected to depart – handing back a country to the very insurgency we went in to defeat.
To all who served in Afghanistan struggling to come to terms with this outcome I simply say – please be proud of your service. You did your duty. The folly of the withdrawal cannot extinguish how you helped rebuild a country and make it safer. Through your efforts, a new Afghan society emerged with higher ambitions and values, which is simply too powerful for the Taliban to smother.
As we “remember them” this Sunday, lets also appreciate they do more than watch our backs and keep us safe at night. As we saw during the pandemic, they are our backup when things go wrong.
Our armed forces help shape our national identity, our politics and global reputation.
We owe such much to our valiant armed forces. Let’s not take them for granted. As you give thanks this Remembrance Day - if have an opportunity to speak to a veteran or someone in uniform – why not wonder across and say, “thank you for your service”.
Tobias Ellwood is the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East and chair of the Defence Committee.
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