Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Last Friday Jan and I thoroughly enjoyed the Festival of Remembrance at the Plymouth Pavilions which as usual combined respectful tributes to local veterans with pride in the impressive cadets on display, all peppered with appropriate British pomp and ceremony. Congratulations to the team, no longer spring chickens, who put this event on each year – it is a real highlight. Next Sunday we will be braving the elements on the Hoe to further remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Some people suggest it is time to move on; to let these memories fade into history. I could not disagree more.
First, we who have been born since 1945 should face up to the harsh realities of the two great wars of the last century and the sacrifice a whole generation made fighting for our freedoms. Whenever confronted with the true horrors of twentieth century warfare: the death and mutilation of such young people, the fear of listening to bombs whistling down from the sky never knowing if one had your name on it, the terror and deprivations in prisoner of war camps, the despair of being trapped on a torpedoed ship slipping beneath icy waves; I try and imagine what people of a certain generation have had to suffer. The rest of us, post-war civilians, have never experienced anything remotely like it. We have benefited from these sacrifices. How dare we forget?
Second, if we remind ourselves of the true horrors of war, we might avoid the same mistakes. The history of mankind is not encouraging. We have inflicted suffering upon each other for countless generations, often for reasons that bear little scrutiny. Sadly I do not believe that human nature is evolving in a way that will render war one day obsolete. Evidence to the contrary. But through democratic political systems we can take steps to reduce the likelihood of nation taking up arms against others. As we remember the implications of conflict we are motivated to seek ways of building bridges and setting in place structures to resolve conflict through peaceful means.  Learning from the past can help us shape a better future
Last year on the Hoe we got soaked. We said to each other in the car on the way home – compared to what those we were commemorating had suffered, it was a walk in the park.
They gave their todays for our tomorrows. We will remember them.

posted by Gary @ 10:12