Sunday, 27 September 2015
Ipswich remembers its Victoria Cross heroes whilst the Tories tell me I should be ashamed of myself for not singing the National Anthem
Yesterday I attended and participated in a civic event at the entrance to Christchurch Park, Ipswich. The event saw the laying of two paving slabs to commemorate the brave men from Ipswich who won the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Loos in 1915.
The Mayor made a short opening speech than I was asked to read out the two medal citations then local military historian Taff Gillingham gave a far more detailed and interesting talk about the two Ipswich VC winners – Private Samuel Harvey and Sergeant Arthur Saunders.
Taff was quick to point out that what made this event special was that it was a ‘civic’ event – it was the people of Ipswich remembering two of their own. The most striking part of the ceremony for me was when young relatives of the two men, came forward and revealed the paving slabs by moving the covering flags.
It is very important that when we remember the sacrifices made by many in the First World War that we include our youngest residents.
After the event I tweeted some pictures from the ceremony and also indicated that I was disappointed that neither of our Tory MPs were in attendance at this important civic event. I understand that both are busy and in particular Mr Gummer as he is now a junior minister, but Westminster is quiet at the moment as it is the conference season and Mr Gummer had been in town on the Friday to promote his plan for the Wet Dock Crossing. You would hope that Mr Poulter and Gummer could have arranged between themselves for one of them to attend but it does seem that even though they are both MPs for the town there is little co-operation between the two (as indicated by one wanting a northern road and a wet dock crossing whilst the other states there will be no northern road and wants a tunnel)
Some may have thought I was mischief making by highlighting their absence but I do believe they should attend as many civic events as possible – it does seem that in the run up to the election they can get to most events but find it harder to attend in Years 1 to 4.
A number of local Tories took to twitter to mention that there may have been good reason for Mr Gummer not attending, they seem to forget we have two MPs they also mentioned that the Labour Council leader was also absent ( he was on holiday) – so I repeated my earlier comment, that I understood they may both be busy but that I was just disappointed they were not there, what happened next was both a shock and left a very bad taste in my mouth.
The next Tory tweets then commented that they had noticed I did not sing the National Anthem at the end of the event – I was flabbergasted – I was then accused of disrespecting our Armed Forces and that I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself.
I joined the army at 15 and served for 26 years in the Regular Army and still serve as a volunteer Cadet Instructor. As a soldier we were taught to stand silently to attention during the national anthem, in fact in my regiment we do not even toast the queen, as our loyalty is never in question.
I felt both anger and also very sorry for those who accused me, why did they think I read the citations? Did they not see my medals? Or do they see little beyond a Daily Mail headline; because Jeremy Corbyn did not sing the national anthem they thought they could attack me for the same? Or were they just trying to deflect us away from asking where our MPs were?
A veteran was asked did he feel angry that Mr Corbyn did not sing the national anthem. He said the reason why he fought in the war was to give people the freedom to choose what they want to do, and that included not singing the national anthem’
I feel I served my country with honour as do many in the armed services but also so do nurses, doctors, bin men, thousands of people in very different jobs and as far as I am concerned what they do every day to help this country is far more important than if they sing or don’t sing that national anthem.