From Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) <[email protected]>
Subject Will you stop at 11am?
Date November 11, 2023 7:59 AM
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This season is not about us. It’s about those who are no longer with us.

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Good morning John

I’m taking a break from the regular political email. Instead, I’m doing what millions across the United Kingdom will be doing today by pausing to remember.

Remembrance events are deeply personal. In that moment of silence, two comrades could be standing side by side with a tear seeping out of their eyes and a lump in their throat but during that moment, their minds may be in very different places. We all can remember differently.

For some they will think of an old family member who served in Flanders Fields where poppies now grow. They didn’t know that relative, but they cherish their medals with pride. Others may be thinking of a son or daughter on tour with our Armed Forces. In Northern Ireland sadly, many of us during that moment think of friends, colleagues and family who were murdered during the Troubles.

My earliest memory of Armistice Day is as a young boy in Kilkeel parading with the Boys’ Brigade to the War Memorial just outside the Presbyterian Church. Rain or shine we marched to that place to bow our heads in quiet tribute. Our uniformed organisations are so integral in teaching the next generation to remember.

I get disheartened by the actions of some and their manufactured grievances about remembrance. This season is not about us. It’s about the men and women who are no longer with us. At each act of remembrance, we repeat our gratitude for their sacrifice with the words ‘they gave their today for our tomorrow’. Let’s just pause to prayerfully say ‘thank you’ to all those who served and gave their all.

Tonight, I plan to attend the Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall. This great event is both spine tingling and heart lifting in its tribute to our Service men and women. It always turns our minds to the humanity of those who serve. The family who are left at home or the empty chair at Christmas.

Tomorrow I will join with other leaders and representatives at the Cenotaph in Whitehall for the Act of Remembrance. It is truly the greatest honour of my life to lay that wreath in tribute to the men and women from every townland, village, town and city in Northern Ireland who left their homes and families behind and stepped forward to defend our nation and the freedoms and values that we hold dear. As I do so, I will be thinking especially of those with whom I served and who laid down their lives for their friends.

The Armistice was an answer to prayer and today we join in praying for the guns to fall silent once more. War is often necessary to prevent evil from triumphing. Peace can bring its own challenges, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as burying our fathers, mothers, sons or daughters.

Wherever you are today, at 11am just stop and remember.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
DUP Leader
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