MP Kemi Badenoch: We need to make sure that future generations continue to remember

MP for Saffron Walden, Kemi Badenoch. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

MP for Saffron Walden, Kemi Badenoch. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

This Remembrance Day will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. It is difficult to comprehend the number of lives lost – an estimated 16.5 million military and civilian deaths.

In this country, every city, every town, and nearly every village lost someone in that war. Strethall, in our constituency, was one of the 53 ‘thankful villages’ in the country that didn’t.

However, as we look to the past during this season of remembrance, we should keep an eye on the future. Now more than ever, as we commemorate the fallen, we need to make sure that coming generations continue to remember and understand the values that underpin their sacrifice.

Last week I spoke at Carver Barracks to the Debden branch of the Royal British Legion. They perform a vital service in keeping the memory of the First World War alive and I am proud to support all the work they do.

In my speech, I talked about courage, duty, service and sacrifice and what it means to be a hero in 2018. Meeting and listening to former and serving soldiers, these are things that I have learned more about during my short time as an MP.

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What they have shown me is that courage isn’t just about being bold, but also about doing the right thing – especially when we are afraid.

The heroes in our armed forces embody not just courage but also duty and service; doing what is right in service of others regardless of the personal cost to oneself. This ethos of service and sacrifice remains at the heart of our armed services and is something which we should never take for granted. Those that give without gaining. Many in our constituency, across the country and serving around the world, who make huge sacrifices, not for recognition, medals or awards but out of a willingness to give something up, perhaps even their own lives, for the greater good.

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These are the values that were epitomised by our soldiers in the First World War and other fields of combat. They remain equally relevant for society today.

This ethos of service, embodied by our armed forces is also prevalent in many other areas of public service.

By continuing to make sure we remember their service and their sacrifice, we recognise the tradition of freedom these men and women fought to preserve. They believed that their actions in the present would make a significant difference for the future. This is the lesson that needs to continue to be passed on to future generations. Those who served in the First World War truly believed that “Without freedom there can be no ensuring peace and without peace no enduring freedom.” They gave their lives to protect that freedom and we must make sure that we never take that hard-fought freedom for granted.

The centenary of armistice is a poignant moment, in particular for those who lost family in the Great War, to commemorate them across the constituency. This Sunday, along with many of you, I will be at the memorial in Great Dunmow acknowledging the courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives in service to our country and to honour the values they fought and died for.

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