This year’s Remembrance Sunday ceremonies were not conducted in the way we all would have wished. Whilst there were many different ways to be involved, we were not all able to come together as we have in the past to honour those that have fallen, who have served and continue to serve our country. Many of these people are our friends, our family and our neighbours.
In 2020, we were reminded of the importance of our safety and security by the impact of coronavirus on the UK. But we were also reminded that we can never take them for granted. Thanks to the incredible work and sacrifice of our armed forces and the support of their families and loved ones, we have continued to navigate our way through this crisis. Whether that be the construction of the Nightingale Hospitals, or their recently announced support of mass testing in Liverpool, they have been there for us.
This year also marked the 75th anniversaries of the UN, VE Day, VJ Day. It’s over 100 years since that fateful early, chilly and drizzly morning in the forest of Compiègne, France, where an armistice was signed and the cessation of hostilities was agreed from 11am on that day.
However, whilst all these moments will be reflected on, it this year’s period of remembrance that has been a reminder of the importance and significance of our armed services to communities across the country. It was truly moving to see such incredible conviction from so many across Britain to support and pay their respects to our armed services on Remembrance Sunday.
Like many others, this year we joined the Royal British Legion in observing a two-minute silence on our doorsteps and all coming together safely to pay our respects to those who have made incredible sacrifices to support and protect us. This way, people joined neighbours, local communities and millions from across the United Kingdom, and from across the world, to recognise those who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe throughout our country’s history.
It is our country’s determination and ability to adapt to honour our fallen that is so deeply inspiring. It is this coming together by so many across our country that is also, however, a reminder of the work our party needs to do to renew its relationship with these communities.
These issues matter to a great deal of communities in our country – many of which are, or used to be, Labour. We need to rebuild our relationship with these communities. We are a patriotic country, and we are a patriotic party. But we need to show that in practical actions. It’s why we have relaunched Labour Friends of the Forces (LFF). To restart these conversations. To speak to communities and people that we have perhaps neglected in the past.
Last month, we had an incredible turnout at our annual general meeting, brimming with enthusiasm and ideas. There is another event with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) scheduled for later this month and LFF representation just later this week at Labour regional conference. But it can’t stop there. We will continue to do more. Next year, as restrictions begin to lift, we hope, we will be able to physically visit these communities and speak in person.
Armistice Day and this period of remembrance will first and always will be a time to reflect and honour our fallen. But this year, it is also an important reminder of the work the Labour Party needs to do to rebuild its relationship with our armed forces and its communities.
Stephen Morgan and Sarah Church are the newly elected co-chairs of Labour Friends of the Forces.