Last Saturday I attended a regimental reunion at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. It was my first visit to this 150-acre site which was founded in 2001 and is now well established. There is a central memorial wall and obelisk and various individual service memorials spread around the grounds. The site remembers all in-service deaths since the end of the Second World War.
I served in The Royal Green Jackets between 1970 – 1980 which consisted of two tours in Belfast, one with the United Nations in Cyprus on the ‘Green Line’ between the Greeks and the Turks and finally a two-year exchange posting with the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry in Calgary, Alberta. The RGJ was founded in 1966 and amalgamated into the Rifles in 2007. Our traditions are based on five things –The thinking riflemen, camouflage, rifle marksmanship, reacting to bugle calls rather than words of command and marching at 140 paces a minute. If you used to watch Sean Bean in ‘Sharpe’s Rifles’ you’ll have the general idea of our background!
Our service around the RGJ memorial was taken by the Reverend Kelvin Price who had served as a corporal in the regiment. He spoke well and I was particularly taken by a point he made about team spirit. He said watching England play football was good but was easily beaten by watching his own team play but both were surpassed by being amongst fellow Riflemen who had all volunteered to serve our country.
He continued that fighting for freedom was a long term and ongoing goal for which our individual contributions will be a small part of the eventual whole. We may now query our 20-year commitment in Afghanistan, but over time it will have served a purpose in helping to spread freedom throughout the world.
Reflecting on this experience as I drove back to Somerset, I was acutely aware that any contribution in fighting for our freedoms, however small or transitory, will always be worth it for the longer term good. My desire is to reform our governance in favour of returning the people’s inherent sovereignty. Our politicians would then become our servants and not our masters. It is for this reason I have continued to promote THA and its six demands for the last 10 years.
THA’s eventual success may well, at best, only begin during my life being completed in the years ahead. However, I’m convinced it will happen as I simply cannot see the people putting up with our current system of governance for ever. My role in the meantime is to keep THA’s pilot light burning.