We will re­mem­ber them all

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - OPPOSING VIEW - Coun­cil­lor Shaz Nawaz, Labour Group leader on Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil

This week, we will be com­mem­o­rat­ing the 100 th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War. The last Tom­mies passed away years ago; the so-called “Great War” has faded from liv­ing mem­ory. Now it is re­called with names etched in me­mo­ri­als across the coun­try; chil­dren may won­der what it was all about and look it up on Wikipedia on their smart­phones.

I am very glad that ev­ery year we have the rit­ual of Re­mem­brance Day; those who fought, per­ished or sur­vived, de­serve more than just mon­u­ments in stone, but to be re­called as flesh and blood hu­man be­ings who had as­pi­ra­tions, dreams, hopes, virtues and yes, faults.

We should be mind­ful of our duty to the liv­ing: ser­vice­men and women who have fought in re­cent wars and their fam­i­lies de­serve not just our re­gard, but also should have the covenant the na­tion has made with them ful­filled.

I was deeply dis­turbed by the re­cent case of a re­tired RAF ser­vice­man orig­i­nally from Ja­maica who was caught up in the Win­drush scan­dal; for­tu­nately, his is­sues were re­solved. I won­der how many more out there are like him; how many more re­tired or wounded war­riors are not re­ceiv­ing the treat­ment they de­serve?

I be­lieve we should also take the op­por­tu­nity en­dowed by Re­mem­brance Day to re­flect on what it means to be Bri­tish. I re­cently at­tended an event at the Ghou­sia Masjid which com­mem­o­rated the Mus­lim ser­vice­men who fought for Bri­tain in World War 2. Out of cu­rios- ity, I’ve looked at other faded pho­to­graphs from that time: not only Mus­lim, but Hindu and Sikh soldiers served too. Be­yond the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent, we find that those who fought for this coun­try came from ev­ery cor­ner of the planet: Poland, the Czech Repub­lic, Aus­tralia, Canada, South Africa to name but a few.

It is fash­ion­able to de­ride the idea of “mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism” these days: it is some­thing that tabloid news­pa­pers and pop­ulist politi­cians re­fer to with dis­dain, if not out­right dis­gust. We are told that it is weak­en­ing the na­tion. How­ever, the faded pho­to­graphs and war me­mo­ri­als sug­gest that Bri­tain has long been a mul­ti­cul­tural en­ter­prise. The var­i­ous lan­guages, faiths and creeds united un­der the Union Flag in the de­fence of not just a home, but an idea: a na­tion built on tol­er­ance, as­pi­ra­tions to lib­erty and fair­ness, and a striv­ing for jus­tice. There is no na­tion that has ever fully achieved these hopes, but main­tain­ing this goal and work­ing to­wards it is just as im­por­tant.

I wear the poppy in my lapel this year and ev­ery year. There are those that may feel we shouldn’t be cel­e­brat­ing war; I be­lieve they are for­tu­nate to live in a coun­try where they have the free­dom to say so. I be­lieve by wear­ing the poppy we are re­mem­ber­ing the peo­ple who gave their all in the de­fence of an idea of Bri­tain. My Labour col­leagues and I are work­ing to­wards mak­ing the coun­try wor­thy of the sac­ri­fice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.