COMMENT: We must rise to the challenge D-Day 75 represents
Britain fought two world wars to safeguard us from the tyranny of an oppressive regime and to ensure that we retained our cherished freedoms.
We stand in remembrance every November to honour the sacrifices made in wartime.
And the anniversaries of significant events in the war, like D-Day, retain a vital significance as each new generation learns about the global conflicts that cost the world so much, while giving us the right to live in a country that prospers and allows us, pretty much, to do, to think and to say whatever we like.
So the forthcoming 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, an operation in which Portsmouth played such a significant role, looks set to provide the city with an intriguing challenge.
That challenge comes in the form of Donald J Trump, the 45th and current president of the United States of America.
How do we ensure that we commemorate the wartime events with the respect and solemnity they deserve, while honouring the leader of the free world, who is unarguably a controversial and highly divisive figure in world politics?
There have been calls from veterans and their organisations to quell protests about Mr Trump’s visit, and to allow the city, and the nation to focus solely on the anniversary.
As one D-Day veteran points out: ‘These protesters will all protest against anything but on that particular day, especially with D-Day, they want to forget all that and just remember if we didn’t fight the people that were there they wouldn’t be here doing their protests.’
But, conversely,how can we deny people who don’t like Mr Trump the right to say so?
The best we can hope is that protests remain peacveful and respectful to the event, and that, on the day, Portsmouth is not besieged by ‘rent’ a mob protesters from elsewhere.
The eyes of the world will be on us and we must rise to the challenge of ensuring the needs of both sides are met,