Speaking at an Armed Forces Day Event on 22 June 2009 at 1900 hours at the Royal British Legion Club, Baileyfield Road, Portobello, Edinburgh, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Gavin Strang, Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East said:
It is a privilege to speak at this first annual Armed Forces Day function in Portobello. The Armed Forces Day, which has been designated by the Government, is this coming Saturday 27 June 2009.
Every year in November the British people commemorate Armistice Day and to our credit it is one of the important dates in our national calendar. A few years ago we decided that we should hold, in addition to Remembrance Sunday, an annual Veterans Day. The first Veterans Day in the UK took place on 27 June 2006. The annual event is now called Armed Forces Day. In Scotland, nationally coordinated flag raising ceremonies were held this morning.
We all owe a great debt to our armed forces and veterans. Most of us are especially conscious of this at present, yet it is a debt the armed forces incur every generation. Many people around Scotland and other parts of the UK will be keen to find a means of acknowledging that debt, and many veterans and reservists will be keen to participate. Armed Forces Day events offer a simple and effective way of enabling people around the country to express their own support.
It is great that thirteen armed forces veterans lapel badges will be presented here this evening. As the local Member of Parliament may I thank the British Legion Club Chairman, Peter Thomson, and the Secretary, Lillian Darcy, for the work they have put into helping us organise this event in the club. I am glad that Freddy Wood, the British Legion Area Secretary, is with us here this evening.
In choosing the veterans to receive badges this evening, the focus is on older veterans who fought for their country in the last World War. We all know what was at stake during those years. They fought and many died to ensure that these islands did not become part of Hitler’s third reich. They fought for democracy.
It is important to recognise that Armed Forces Day is about all our servicemen and women who serve or have served our country. In recent years, many young men and women have died fighting, and even more have been seriously maimed or injured. I assume that everybody in this hall knows that I voted against military action in Iraq. However, whatever view one takes of that military action, I defer to no one in acknowledging the priority which this government and any future government needs to give to looking after our veterans.
Our armed forces are in action in many parts of the world. They play a vital role in peacekeeping. It is often stated in the House of Commons that we have the best armed forces in the world. I believe that is true, and we need to spend the money required to keep it that way.
As many of you will have noticed, the House of Commons is electing a new Speaker today. As the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh East, I have never been in any doubt that my priority today is to be here. A few of you may know that I am Treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Royal Air Force Group. Rather more here may be aware that I have been a Trustee of this club for over thirty years, and I hope to have many more to come.