Opinion: ‘Thanking the people who protect us’

Councillor Kirsty Knight, Green Party city councillor, writes...

Saturday, 13th November 2021, 2:45 pm
Wreaths lay at the foot of the Cenotaph in London. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Second World War. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Remembrance Sunday takes place on November 14 this year.

This most solemn of days is an annual occasion for the nation to come together to mark both loss of life and the huge contribution our military has made to protecting freedoms both here and around the world.

The services which will take place all over the nation have changed little in over 100 years.

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Currently, there are around 6,000 UK military personnel stationed overseas.

Over the past 12 months many have been deployed to support the response to the Covid crisis. Our servicemen and ladies are often held at readiness to support civil authorities in times of crises.

It can sometimes be easy to overlook the teams providing such vital and dangerous services as bomb disposal and mountain rescue.

In the 21st century the military has supplied support to the foot-and-mouth outbreak, provided firefighting services during the 2002 firefighters’ strike and backed up civil defence services during the severe floods which we now regularly encounter.

Additionally, they have provided support in the aftermath of such atrocities as the Manchester Arena bombing, while maintaining standby teams ready to assist with counter-terrorism duties.

During the past 20 or so years our troops have been operationally deployed in such places as Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

They have also lent support in many other locations around the world, providing humanitarian aid, peacekeeping duties, and generally keeping the population safe.

Irrespective of which service the personnel belong to, whether they’re serving overseas or at home, and whether full time or reservists, the sacrifices, determination and willingness to put service before self is to be hugely admired.

As a nation we have a fine tradition of paying our respects to these extraordinary people, be they sailors, soldiers or airmen.

The services may wear different uniforms, have individual sets of traditions and perform different missions. However, when I think of those serving our country, regardless of what branch or what duty they perform, I think of one word: sacrifice.

In doing their duty, they make great sacrifices.

Their readiness to deploy at a moment’s notice, and a willingness to face danger in defending and protecting people’s freedom is a generous and selfless act.

No matter where these men and women are serving or what mission they are supporting, they are making sacrifices on our behalf.

We are rightly very proud of them, but is being proud enough?

We should remember that they are continually facing challenges and continually need our support.

Our forces are smaller than ever, but the workload rarely decreases.

We should not forget that it is our children, our brothers, sisters and our neighbours who are serving the country.

Every year we thank them for their service and their sacrifice, and we stand with them and their families when they selflessly place themselves in danger.

We must continue to support and thank our service people.

They have shown, and continue to show, a willingness to give everything to uphold our freedoms and the freedoms of people around the world.