Each of us should be with our countries in good times and bad: contributing to its welfare, standing and defense, and protecting the values of justice and freedom makes a country what it is. And that’s the purpose of Remembrance Day
We should all be proud to be part of a nation that actively encourages dissent and scrutiny of our government while maintaining a strong support for the welfare of the men and women who are sent to fight on our behalf.
We are also fortunate to be in a country that aims to apply higher standards to the conduct of our Armed Forces. That value is coupled by strong civic and democratic traditions that allow us to debate all these issues in freedom and without fear.
We should pay tribute to the heroism and bravery of our soldiers, particularly in those just wars of national survival. Amongst the countless First and Second World War memorials around the world are emblazoned names, which represent the tens of thousands of citizens who have stood as part of this nation, who fought bravely, and who fell defending this country in corners near and far all around the world. The poignancy of this should not be lost on any of us.
Remembering all around
The London exhibition; ‘We Were There’, provided many examples of sacrifice, highlighting how over one million men from the ethnic minorities served in the Great War.
Remembering the shared sacrifices of our armed forces that came from all groups and racial backgrounds can help us to unite around an oneness that has optimism and confidence about the future while being rooted in the shared and divergent histories of our country.
Remembrance Day is a formal recognition of our achievements as a country, it gives us a moment to pause and consider how the country has evolved since the last wide-scale sacrifice of the war. We should cherish values that uphold freedoms, diversity, human rights and the rule of law.
An experience that anyone will forget
If the experiences of Remembrance Day and the sense of unified national moment mean anything to us as a nation, then they must mean that we emphatically reject the malignant cancer of hatred and social division.
On the Remembrance Day our thoughts should turn to observance of commemoration of all those members of the armed forces who lost their lives during the wars. We can hold special services and lay at war memorials throughout the country. How widely is it known that more than 1.3 million soldiers served during the First World War? That they suffered heavy casualties, died, wounded and others were missing or taken?
It is important to remember that these men and women died fighting defending rights and liberties and the nation’s most cherished values.
Their ultimate contribution reflected the commitment and unity of heroic proportions and deserves to be honored in a fitting manner. Our women were tortured, but showed immense courage refused to divulge the secret codes. Sometimes attempting escape and as a result, shackled in chains.
Renembering the braves
These nuanced views are possible because of the strong civic and democratic traditions that allow us to debate all these issues in freedom and without fear in this country. Loyalty does not mean the suspension of our critical faculties and failure to question our contested international engagements.
Despite the extremely difficult foreign policy pursued by the government which appears to have a sharp and adverse focus on countries with majority Muslim populations, Muslims in some countries have shown commitment to the country by going to the extent of condemning their fellows who are being involved in war.
It is every citizen’s wish to see increased numbers of all cultural groups and religions taking up positions in our Armed Forces just as they have done so in other sectors of our society. For this to be successful, however, it is imperative that the high reputation of our armed forces is zealously protected.
A true meaning
It means also that we renew our commitment to higher standards. We should ensure that the action of a few does not diminish the overall expectations of our armed forces to abide by international laws of war and uphold fundamental human rights.
It important to cater for the spiritual and religious needs of servicemen from all faith backgrounds by welcoming initiatives by our armed forces towards greater recognition of the needs of their recruits. We hope that such initiatives will also allow increased numbers to take up positions in our armed forces.
Let us join hands remembering the brave at a time when current operations raises complex questions of national identity, personal loyalty and what it means to be who we are. It may be hard to join the Armed Forces and there is concern as to how you will be received back in the community. Let us all try and spend a few minutes of our time on November 11 with our military men whether relatives or otherwise to show our appreciation for the role they play in our country.
Image courtesy of cheddington (cheddington.org.uk), all rights reserved