This Sunday, we will all pause to remember British and Commonwealth servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives in conflicts since World War 1.
in 2010, I attended the funeral of Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze at Christ Church in Denton.
Lance Corporal Breeze was serving in Afghanistan when he was killed in an explosion whilst clearing an area near Check Point Kingshill. He lost his life while working to improve security in the region.
I was not lucky enough to meet Lance Corporal Breeze, but I am moved by his life to this day. As I sat in church to represent a community in profound morning, I thought about the extraordinary bravery it takes to risk your life for your country, and how no amount of gratitude seems proportionate to the sacrifice made.
When I observe the moment of silence on Sunday, I will be thinking of Lance Corporal Breeze, his family and his friends. More than a million British and Commonwealth service personnel have lost their lives since 1914 – I will also think of them, and pledge that their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
On Sunday, I will be in Denton Central to pay my respects, as I make my way to Denton Town Hall and the Cenotaph in Victoria Part. I will then lay wreaths in Denton West at midday and Dukinfield in the afternoon. Wreaths will also be laid at Haughton Green, Audenshaw and Reddish on my behalf.
It will be a solemn but important day. Remembrance is not just about recognising those who have fallen, but also those who continue to risk their lives each and every day to keep us safe.
Recently, we have seen war break out in Europe. With Putin’s invasion of Ukraine we are again living in unprecedented and volatile times. The war in Ukraine is not only a reminder of the fragility of peace, but also a testament to the bravery of those who choose to serve their country in the pursuit of liberty, democracy and freedom.
Laurence Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’ – often recited at remembrance services across the country – is a poem that is very close to my heart. The final stanza is my favourite, and perfectly captures the tremendous debt we have to the fallen:
“As the stars they shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”