Tuesday 7 July 2009

Hyde Park Memorial – 7th July 2009; 1st UK Armed Forces Day – 27th June 2009

Today, four years to the day after the terrorist bombings in London, a memorial to the 52 fatalities has been unveiled by HRH the Prince of Wales. The £1 million memorial consists of 52 stainless steel pillars standing 3.5 metres tall. They are arranged in four random clusters to represent the four separate locations of the attacks. Each pillar bears the name of one victim. A plaque naming the victims has also been erected at the site in Hyde Park. A minute's silence was observed. Hundreds more ordinary citizens were injured in the attacks.

It appears to be a beautiful monument and will remain as a reminder of an unforgettable day in our history.

What happened on 27th June, just over a week ago? It was the occasion of the First UK Armed Forces Day. This date was chosen to follow the anniversary of the first investiture ceremony for the Victoria Cross on 26th June 1857. The main celebration was held at Chatham Historic Dockyard, formerly a strategic Royal Navy base.

In attendance were the unelected Prime Minister and his wife, the current Defence Minister, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. Where were the senior representatives of the Royal Family? Perhaps the Prince of Wales was trying unsuccessfully to dissuade his younger son from his plans to go night-clubbing. Harry partied till the small hours, some say drunkenly!

Do we forget so readily the hundreds of thousands killed for our freedom? Remembrance Day in November is one day a year when the nation remembers and praises and gives thanks. Is it enough?

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