27 June 2009

Britains Celebrate First Armed Forces Day

The London Eye is lit up in red, white and blue to mark Armed Forces Day. Picture: Sgt Andy Malthouse, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009.

Until today, the UK didn't have a holiday like our Veteran's Day. Now, finally, they do. Thank you to all of our British brothers in arms for your service! We're proud to stand with you.

Thousands gather for first Armed Forces Day
27 Jun 09

Thousands of people across the world are paying tribute to the UK's past, present and future military personnel in the first ever Armed Forces Day, today, Saturday 27 June 2009.

Hundreds of events are taking place in many different communities around the world from London to Afghanistan and Edinburgh to Gibraltar.

Almost 200 events are happening across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland alone, while military bases where UK Service personnel are deployed across the world are celebrating in their own ways.

More than 30,000 members of the public, who want to show their support for Service personnel and veterans, are expected at the main national event taking place at Chatham's Historic Dockyard in Kent.

The celebration is featuring a military parade, a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows, as well as presentations and interactive displays from the Royal Navy, the Army, and the Royal Air Force.

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter flies an Armed Forces Day flag over Afghanistan. Picture: Cpl Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth is spending Armed Forces Day with troops in Afghanistan. He said:

"Every day the men and women of our Armed Forces are risking their lives for the defence of our country. They are the guardians of our security and our values.

"Armed Forces Day on the 27th June is an opportunity for us all to recognise their commitment, their courage, and their sacrifice. On this day there is no other place that I would rather be than here, amongst our servicemen and women on operations.

"It is also an opportunity to thank the thousands of veterans who have played so fundamental a role in protecting our country's freedom. And it is a chance to think about the families who support our brave men and women all year round.

"I sincerely hope that people across the UK will join in the events taking place today, and honour our Service personnel - past, present and future."

Service personnel parade for Armed Forces Day. Picture: PA.

Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, who is attending the national event in Chatham, said:

"The many events that are taking place today and the enthusiasm the British public has shown for Armed Forces Day mean a great deal to those in the military family.

"It is important for them to know that the Armed Forces are at the heart of national life, and that they enjoy the respect and appreciation of the people that they serve."

Two of the most high profile Service personnel of recent years are His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and HRH Prince Henry of Wales, who also paid tribute to the UK's Armed Forces today saying:

"Armed Forces Day is a celebration of our fighting men and women and the immeasurable contribution they make to our lives and to the reputation of this country.

"Through centuries of service to the nation, the members of our Armed Forces have established a record unequalled in the world. They work selflessly with honour and distinction, in the most challenging circumstances imaginable. As serving officers, we have the privilege of witnessing the living traditions, the courage and the professionalism at first hand.

"It is humbling for us to be associated, in a minor way, with something quite so exceptional.

"This day also recognises the wider family: the veterans, young and old; the many volunteers who support the Cadet Forces so tirelessly; and - of paramount importance and sometimes forgotten - the families and friends whose care and support enables such excellence.

"We are both so delighted to support this Armed Forces Day."

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