Every year Armistice Day provides a reminder for us all of the deep debt of gratitude we owe to those serving in our armed forces. On Remembrance Sunday I will join people in Cinderford to take part in a service to mark this solemn occasion.
This year is the centenary of the Armistice that marked the end of four years of bloody conflict.
This devastating conflict claimed the lives of over eight hundred thousand British and Commonwealth service personnel. These losses were suffered from across all parts of society, ranging from workers at places like the Tin Works in Lydney to Viscount Quenington, a Gloucestershire Member of Parliament. We must hold dear each and every sacrifice that has been made in conflict.
Each year, poppy sales provide an opportunity to support the excellent work of the Royal British Legion and, as always, I encourage everyone to give generously to this worthy cause. The Legion plays a crucial role in helping those who have come out of the forces settle back into civilian life. Their Poppy Appeal and programmes that it funds go a long way in helping veterans and their families in the UK. This can be anything from financial advice and support, to care for veterans and respite for carers. Many also mistakenly believe that the British Legion is primarily there for the older generation. However, with the Legion helping people at ages from 9-100 in recent years this is clearly not the case.
As well as remembering past sacrifices, it is also important to pause and reflect on more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan where many lost their lives. Our own 1RIFLES, based at Beachley, returned home having lost a number of their valued colleagues. Our thoughts, prayers and eternal gratitude must forever be with them as well as their families and friends.
It is sacrifices like theirs which ensure that we can feel safe each day. I hope that everyone will join me in giving thanks to members of our brave armed forces past and present and remember those who have given their lives for our freedom. We are forever grateful.