It was a privilege last week to be at the flag-raising event at Oxford Castle in support of our armed services, to mark the week leading up to the annual national Armed Forces Day on Saturday.
It is important to reflect on all that we owe to those who put their lives on the line in our defence, and it was good to see senior representatives of the armed forces community in Oxfordshire join with cadets from across the county to take part in these important commemorative events. This is a particularly important event for Oxfordshire, which plays host to large numbers of military personnel, and it was good to see members of the public turning out to honour the country's servicemen and women and their families across the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.
The week also saw the House of Commons debate on the commemoration of World War One. Speaking in the debate, I said "I want to take this opportunity to place on record my profound respect for all those from Oxfordshire and beyond who served and suffered, along with their families, during the First World War. As is evident from so many of the contributions we have heard, the scale of people's courage and sacrifice was matched only by the horrors that they were forced to endure. In a real sense, whatever we are able to say here in such debates cannot do justice to what people who went through the First World War endured. It is almost beyond our imagination. The most fitting thing to come out of the commemoration, and the epitaph to the centenary, must be a firm resolve on the part of us all to do everything we can to prevent such carnage from happening again."
I also made a point of praising those who tend the Commonwealth war graves, and the role of the Royal British Legion and all it does in supporting our armed services and the important role they will play in the commemorations.
Oxfordshire is holding a number of events mark the centenary of World War One this year, including events at The Ashmolean and Bodleian Library, with commemorative activities ranging from photographic exhibitions, walking tours, theatre and musical productions. It is wonderful to see the diverse range of events to commemorate the centenary here in Oxford. Further details are available on Oxfordshire County Council's website here.