In normal times last Sunday would have seen us stand shoulder to shoulder, falling silent and remembering those that paid the ultimate price for their country.
Remembrance Sunday belongs to those who gave their lives, their health and their loved ones. At a time when we are all learning about making sacrifices, when many people are cut off from their friends and family – particularly the elderly – and there are growing concerns about loneliness and mental health, it is immensely important we mark this occasion.
In Prince Charles’ own words, Armistice Day today provides a poignant opportunity for us to pay tribute to the nation's armed forces for standing “side-by-side” with frontline NHS staff and key workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
At a personal level, I found this year’s annual Festival of Remembrance at London's Royal Albert Hall profoundly moving. I’ve had the privilege and honour of previously presenting the Wales Festival of Remembrance at St David’s Hall. That was a very emotional occasion but the challenges of 2020 mean that we have perhaps come to realise that the freedoms for which the heroes of the First World war, Second World War and all other conflicts fought are more precious than we ever knew.
The respect and unity shown around the United Kingdom on Sunday was particularly poignant because of the pandemic. Both our First Minister and Secretary of State for Wales laid wreaths at the National War Memorial and that served as a powerful reminder for me of how it is only right and proper that we think of those that fought for our country as well as those that are suffering now.
We owe it to each other and those before us to do the right thing. We need to take the right decisions for peace and security in the world as well as waging war on the insidious killer that is Covid. Our political leaders have been faced with the unprecedented challenge of balancing lives, livelihoods and liberties this year. I know that I repeatedly bang this drum but the need for strong leadership has never been so important.
The decisions taken by Welsh Government and UK Government are impacting us all in a way that is different to anything that most of us have ever previously known. We are also affected by the change of leadership in the United States, however that may manifest itself in coming days and weeks. We must stand together to fight the pandemic and address the pressing issues of international trade, climate change and Brexit because the health, wealth and wellbeing of nations around the world should be our collective priority.
2020 really has been an extraordinary year. We're making a huge national effort to deal with the difficulties that we face, with the pandemic having reminded all too many of us of the fragility of life. I’m wearing my poppy with pride and as always, I will have hope for the future. Lest we forget as we stand in unity to protect lives and look forward to better times ahead.
Robert Lloyd Griffiths
IoD Wales National Director