July 2019: News from your local MP
I commend D-Day heroes
LAST month saw the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Operation Neptune, the Allied Forces’ landings at Normandy on D-Day, which led to the liberation of France and the defeat of the Nazis. However, this came at a cost of over 10,000 Allied casualties, including at least 4,414 confirmed dead fighting on the beaches of Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. A reminder, indeed, that freedom isn’t free and we should never take for granted the fact that we live in a free country.
Events have been held across Europe remembering and honouring the sacrifices made and the heroic acts which helped claw our continent back from the brink and restore the vibrant liberal democracies that the citizens of Europe can now live, work and thrive in. It gave me great pleasure to see British service personnel deployed from the coasts of Somalia, Kabul in Afghanistan, the Baltic Sea and beyond taking time away from their important duties to honour their forbears, whose mantle they have taken up to ensure people have the opportunity today to live free.
I had the privilege of attending the commemorative lunch organised by Blind Veterans, a charity which works to ensure that those who have lost their sight whilst serving our country have the rehabilitation, training, advice, and emotional support they need. I was proud to be accompanying John Maloney, Chair of Stoke Gifford’s Royal British Legion, to this well-attended event. I had the opportunity to meet and speak with many veterans and hear about the roles they played in D-Day and other war efforts, as well as the fulfilling lives they have been able to live after service.
Whilst it is normally in November that we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, this experience and special anniversary has given me pause for thought and reflection. Gratitude is important and we must all recognise that none of us live free and happy on our own. We are all benefiting from sacrifices, both historic ones of brave armed forces personnel laying down their lives to keep our enemies from our shores, and contemporary ones of emergency service and hospital staff who give up public holidays with their families to keep us safe. None of us could ever repay the debts of honour and gratitude that we owe to those who came before us and those who now strive in the spirit of public service and our national defence today. However, we can remember this and be humbled by and thankful for it.
It is worth remembering the immortal words of American President Ronald Reagan, given at Point Du Hoc on Omaha beach to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Normandy landings:
“We will always remember; we will always be proud; we will always be prepared, so that we may be always free.”
To read more about the good work of Blind Veterans please visit their website at blindveterans.org.uk.