Afzal Amin is a former army officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is the Conservative candidate for Dudley North.
Each year, we gather on Remembrance Sunday to pay our respects to those who gave so much for our country. In every city, town and village we stand together as a United Kingdom, on what is for all of us the most solemn and most moving day of the year.
Generations before us gave their lives so that we could live in a country where freedom and the rule of law are enshrined in an open and democratic society. We remember those who died to give us these freedoms and those who still serve. We gather to show our gratitude to the heroes of the past and the heroes of today.
A hundred years ago, the Great War had just started and little did the people of that time know how tragic it would be. We salute the sacrifices made so valiantly by those who gave their tomorrows so we could have our today. And at the setting of the sun today and every day we will remember them.
There is no greater expression of service to one’s country and compatriots than being willing to lay down one’s own life to protect and defend others. Everyone who serves in the Armed Forces does exactly this: we owe them our deepest gratitude and we must honour our debt to them. We salute their courage and we value their exemplary service. We remember those who didn’t return and we stand side by side with their families as part of the brotherhood that unites our country.
And beyond the fallen are those who returned with injuries, some visible, many more hidden beneath a dignified and composed exterior. To each and every one of them, we must commit our resources to support, nurture and heal, so that they may know we honour the covenant under which they stepped forward, put on the uniform, swore their allegiance and served their country.
Today, as I stand and hear the sermon, join the prayers and listen to the Last Post, I will be thinking of friends and colleagues with whom I served in Iraq and Afghanistan who did not come home, those whose funerals I attended – and will also be thinking of their families and loved ones for whom remembrance is such a personal act.
As always, we will remember them.