Remembrance Sunday gives the nation the chance to show its gratitude to our Armed Forces and recognise those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. This year's commemorations are particularly poignant because they mark the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, in 1914.
It was an incredible tribute to our servicemen and women and veterans, and their families, to see such high attendances at Remembrance Services in Stockton South. It was an indication that as we reflect on the loss of that generation who went to war in 1914, we are also keenly aware of those who currently serve, most notably those who are returning home from Afghanistan.
At a time when so many millions gather together to thank the Armed Forces, it’s sad to think that those who fight for our country might need the protection of our laws, but some do. That’s why Labour is supporting a change to the law so that discrimination against the Armed Forces would be illegal and for the first time ever it would be a specific criminal offence to attack servicemen and women. Labour is also committed to enshrining the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant in the NHS Constitution, to ensure that those with physical or psychological injuries receive proper care and support. And we are also committed to introducing a Veterans Register, so that those leaving the Armed Forces can access health, housing and employment services to help them transition to civilian life.
Labour is a patriotic party that is proud of our Armed Forces and veterans and their families. We will honour the Armed Forces Covenant, and ensure that our servicemen and women are treated with dignity and respect. Their bravery and dedication deserves no less.
In terms of a personal reflection, earlier this year my Dad and I applied for the Arctic Star on behalf of my Grandad who served in the Navy as a medical orderly in the Second World War. It arrived with Dad last week, too late for me to bring together with his other medals for today's service of remembrance but early enough to make me feel proud. I will also be remembering my Great Grandfather wounded in the First World War; my maternal Grandad who was in a reserved occupation - and all of their wives who kept everything together throughout both wars.
Image: Good to see the children and young people taking part in the Act of Remembrance today in Thornaby