The message to Scotland is ‘to you we throw the torch’

Picture: Shutterstock

STEVE CANAVAN: The case of the 'kitchen' door is open and shut

Have your say

Today is a day for reflection.

Ninety-five years ago today, a document was signed which ended one of the biggest tragedies in modern history.

It is hard to process a figure as high as 16 million, but that’s how many people died during the Great War. More than that in fact.

Each one of those was a person who, as the poem In Flanders Fields says, ‘loved and were loved’.

Questions are sometimes asked about when it’s appropriate to stop this annual event, seeing as almost a century has passed since the armistice treaty was signed in Versailles.

But today, at the passing of the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, as Big Ben rings out in its slow, ponderous manner, it is not just the fallen from World War One to whom we will be paying tribute.

It is time to remember those who died during that war, those who lived through the horror and survived, and the millions of other people who are or who have been involved in armed conflicts since 1918.

The world is not a peaceful place, no matter how much we all might want it to be.

From fights outside pubs and clubs at closing time, to wars between nations, violent disagreements have been a part of life since time immemorial.

It is still vital our little island can protect itself from those who would do us harm.

And one of the ways to do that is to have a ring of steel, painted gunmetal grey, patrolling the waters around the world to show it that Britain is still a force to be reckoned with.

That’s why it’s important to remember those who have fought and died, and our city’s vital role in all of those conflicts – from the men whose graves lie in Flanders fields, to the people who keep our ships afloat.

While I remember the fallen and the fighting, I’ll also today be thinking of those who have been told they will no longer be building ships in Portsmouth.

And to the shipyards of Scotland, I give this message, again through the excellent words of John McCrae, written in 1915: ‘To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high’.