I am an ex-soldier. I did not see any conflict in the time I spent in the Army, however I attend the memorial on the Links at Whitley Bay every year.
It makes me very happy to see that more of the public are turning out to remember the fallen.
As conflicts around the world have escalated, the names have been added to lists of heroes who, in their respective positions in the armed forces, have paid the price for their country, whether severe injury or death.
Last year when I attended the memorial on Remembrance Sunday, it was fantastic to see all the different services and veterans march through the centre of Whitley Bay to rapturous applause, then to be applauded into position at the memorial by a crowd of at least 1,500.
The service was really nice, until, for the second year running, the wreath-laying commenced.
Individuals were asked to come forward one by one to lay a wreath from their respective organisation – Army, Royal Navy, RAF, fire service, police, cadet forces, etc.
Unfortunately, when the speaker asked for a representative from the Army – silence; Navy – silence. Luckily, there was a representative from the air force who laid the wreath.
It’s appalling that organisations cannot see fit to honour these people with the dignity they deserve. Several people around me voiced their opinion, disgusted to say the least.
In amongst this large crowd there was easily 100 veterans who had medals from campaigns old and recent. Any one of those ladies or gentlemen would have been proud to lay a wreath on behalf of their lost ones, they wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
After writing to North Tyneside Council, the Army and the Royal British Legion last year, I thought they would be sure to organise this correctly and have the necessary representatives at the memorial.
I was informed last year that the council is responsible for the invitations. Surely it could make sure that acknowledgements are received prior to the event. Alternative arrangements could then be made.