THE CEREMONIAL launch of Worcester’s poppy appeal drew a strong crowd this Saturday morning and so it should.
This year’s commemorations will have an added poignancy coinciding as they do not only with the centenary of the Great War, which our Remembrance ceremonies, were started to commemorate but also with the end of the long and arduous British combat mission in Afghanistan.
It is a shocking thought that through almost the whole of my adult life, a period much longer than the 14-18 war which did so much for form our modern world, British soldiers have been involved in combat operations in that far off country.
We should think of them as we wear our poppies and take part in our services of remembrance this year.
We should think of those who served and bear the unseen scars of combat stress as well as those who came back with physical wounds and of course those who did not return at all.
Just as each year we remember the enormous sacrifices of previous generations we should keep in mind the dedication, bravery and simple spirit of service that is imbued in the armed forces of today.
I am glad that by putting the military covenant into law the Government has recognised its compact with the armed services and that local covenant such as the one I signed for Worcestershire are making this an ever more important factor in our communities.
Another moving Guildhall ceremony that I was privileged to take part in last week was the granting of the Freedom of the City of Worcester to the Queen’s Royal Hussars.
They join the Mercians, the Grenadier Guards and the Royal Artillery on the very special list of regiments allowed to march through our city.
All of these have included local servicemen and all have seen action in Afghanistan over recent years.
It is absolutely right that a city with such a strong history of supporting the armed forces should welcome them and show our support for them.
I recently visited the Tower poppies and it is a powerful testament to the huge loss of life that occurred between 1914 and 1918 to see more than 888,000 individual poppies in the moat of the Tower of London each representing a British serviceman who died.
It is also a testament to the support of the British people for the military community and our veterans that each and every one of these has been sold to raise funds for military charities.
As Remembrance Sunday nears we should all remember the debt of gratitude that we owe our servicemen and women past and present. We should give generously and most of all we should remember.