Every year on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we mark, honour, and remember those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars and in conflicts since. This special day of Remembrance is this year even more poignant as our normal celebrations become more muted due to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, even though the usual processions and crowds of people paying their respects will be less, the gratitude and thanksgiving for their lives and service will be undiminished. I will lay my wreath at local cenotaphs privately and like many others reflect on the Kohima Epitaph. ‘When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.’
Covid-19 has meant that our today is very different than ever imagined. We are engaged in a fight against a global virus which has taken the lives of loved ones, separated us from family and friends and impacted on businesses and our communities. The lockdown restrictions announced at the beginning of November will be hard, but we must control the virus and ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed as we enter the winter season.
As we avoid large gatherings many people will have chosen instead to come together on their doorsteps on Remembrance Sunday at 11:00 AM to observe two minutes silence to remember those who gave their lives for our country.
With fundraising events cancelled and poppy collectors unable to sell poppies, the Royal British Legion is encouraging people to donate online instead. We have become so used to doing things online throughout this time that I know many people will welcome the opportunity to support our veterans in this way.
I welcomed the government announcement of a Veterans Travel Card giving discounted national rail travel for anyone who has served in our armed forces and I hope the Mayor of Greater Manchester will answer my call for this to be rolled out across our area for our local veterans on our local networks.
As we face the challenges that this pandemic is bringing us, we can still come together as a virtual community to remember, commemorate, and celebrate some of the bravest people who have served our country. I am sure we will continue to find ways to ensure the Armed Forces community is well supported and feels our gratitude.