Manchester saluted military personnel past and present to mark Armed Forces Day. The outstanding contribution of the nation’s armed forces was honored with a special day of family activities and entertainment.
Similar events were held throughout the country. The celebration took over St Peter’s Square in the city center on Saturday to thank current serving members of the armed forces as well as veterans of all ages.
The salute began with a ceremonial march past through St Peter’s Square to the war memorial to the sounds of the Lancashire Artillery Band, who continued to perform throughout the day with a selection of other musicians.
There were military displays including photographs and personnel recounting their involvement. The displays covered various campaigns and focused on the diversity of Armed Forces personnel. Military equipment such as tanks and transporters also went on display along with interactive attractions.
Now in its fourteenth year, Armed Forces Day attracted hundreds into the city once again. The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councilor Donna Ludford, said: “Armed Forces Day is a very important day; it allows the city to recognize all the sacrifices the Armed Forces have made and continue to make for our country. It is also our chance to make sure all those who serve know just how much respect we have for them, and how grateful we are for their service, dedication and work to keep us all safe.”
The Duchess of Cambridge, meanwhile, paid tribute to ‘all the brave men and women’ in the military on Armed Forces Day. In a statement posted on Twitter, the duchess thanked the armed forces and their families for the “sacrifice” they make to keep the UK safe.
“Today on Armed Forces Day, William and I would like to pay tribute to the brave men and women, past and present, serving in all of our armed forces, at sea, on land and in the air, here in the UK and around the world,” she said. “Thank you for all you and your families sacrifice to keep us safe.”
The duchess also shared some photos from her visit to Pirbright Training Academy and Abingdon airfield in November last year. “Last year, I was honored to spend time with the British Army to see how they train serving personnel and new recruits,” she said.
“It was wonderful to see first-hand the many important and varied roles the military play day in, day out to protect us all.” The duchess added that she looked forward to discovering more about the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy ‘in due course’. During her visit de ella the duchess saw first-hand how new recruits and serving personnel are trained.
She even took part in some of the training exercises and spent time speaking to the soldiers about their experiences in the British Army. The photos echo those taken of her late mother-in-law Princess Diana, sitting in the driver’s seat of a tank in 1988.
Similarly, a young Prince Harry was also photographed wearing a slightly-too-large helmet while on a visit to the barracks of the light dragoons in 1993.
Similar events took place across the UK, enabling people to come out and show their support, and giving a much-valued morale boost for Armed Forces personnel and their families, said the Ministry of Defence. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also voiced their appreciation for service personnel across the UK.
“Our Armed Forces are without doubt the best, most respected and most loved armed forces in the world,” the Prime Minister said. “You are hugely admired by the people of this country – who cheered you most recently at the Jubilee celebrations – because they are so proud of everything you do to keep us safe.
“You are there for us and our country when we need you, whether you are watching the skies, patrolling the seas or standing over our interests.
“Thank you to everyone in the vast military family. Thank you to our incredible veterans. And thank-you to the family and friends whose support is so crucial to ensuring that we have the best fighting force anywhere in the world.”
Mr Wallace said: “Our service personnel and their families’ unwavering commitment to the defense of the United Kingdom ensures that we are kept safe, at home and abroad, 365 days a year.
“On this Armed Forces Day, I hope the entire nation will join me in saying thank-you to this community who make so many sacrifices to defend the freedoms and rights of the British people.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.