STEPHEN HEPBURN: Remembrance Day is a day to be proud

Lest we forget.

Lest we forget.

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Every year I notice more young people at the Remembrance Service in Jarrow when I lay a poppy wreath at the town’s war memorial.

The annual ceremony to honour all those who served our country and risked their, and sadly in too many cases lost, lives so we may be free sees the North East at its very best: dignified, thoughtful, loyal, kind, dedicated, polite and grateful.

I’ll admit to feeling emotional when the haunting Last Post is played by the bugler.

To be part of the occasion, laying a wreath as I shall do again this weekend is one of the greatest honours I perform as a Labour MP representing good people in much of South Tyneside and parts of Gateshead.

Because I’m immensely proud of our people who serve in the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

I’m immensely proud of the veterans who performed heroics when our nation was threatened.

And I’m immensely proud of their families and the members of the public who come to give their support.

So please come along on Sunday morning and if you’ve never been before, you’ll find you’re very welcome.

The rise in the number of young people I mentioned is pleasing proof the moment of Remembrance is as relevant today as it ever was and fears it might fade with a Great War generation who no longer grow old were thankfully unfounded.

I’m aware also the ranks of the Second World War survivors growing thin with the relentless march of time but they too must never be forgotten while those currently in uniform are at the forefront of our minds.

The poppy appeal is a major fundraising drive by the marvellous Royal British Legion which does brilliant, often unheralded work with veterans and the forces personnel.

I’ve voted in Parliament against military action, including the invasion of Iraq and bombing in Syria, but I stand second to no man or woman in my admiration for the bravery and professionalism of British armed forces respected around the world.

So please donate whatever you can afford and wear your poppy with pride, as I do.

The Legion’s army of volunteer sellers with their tins and boxes are vital to this community occasion and a fabulous bunch.

FIFA should focus on tackling corruption in football, particularly at the very top if it leads to their headquarters, instead of scoring stupid own goals by ordering England to keep the poppy off players shirts.

I recall watching England play in Holland a few years ago and seeing football boss Nigel Pearson at the Arnhem War Museum, showing that our players and managers in the beautiful game are as proud as any of us.

So together on Sunday we all have an opportunity to pay our respects and show we care. So please come along this weekend.

We must never forget we owe our armed forces an enormous debt.