Widespread support for an Armed Forces Day

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Widespread support for an Armed Forces Day

Post by Guest on Sun 16 Mar 2008, 4:44 pm

One of the Army's top generals has backed The Sunday Telegraph's call for the Government to recognise the contribution made by servicemen and women with the creation of an Armed Forces Day.

Lt Gen Nick Parker, the Commander of Regional Forces, said the designation of a day to mark the contribution would be a "fantastic initiative" which would "humble" the Forces.

An ICM Poll commissioned by this newspaper has indicated that almost 80 per cent of the public would like to see such an initiative.

The poll, based on the views of 1,002 people from across the country, also found that 90 per cent of the public would like to see members of the Armed Forces wearing their uniforms in public.

Those questioned were asked: "It has been suggested there should be an Armed Forces Day on which we celebrate the work of our servicemen and women. Do you think this would be a good idea or a bad idea?" In all, 77 per cent thought it a good idea, 19 per cent thought it a bad idea and 4 per cent said they did not know.

The public were also asked: "Do you think servicemen and women should or should not wear their uniform in public whenever they wish?" Of those polled, 90 per cent said they should, 8 per cent said they should not and 2 per cent did not know.

The Sunday Telegraph believes that such a day would allow the public to pay tribute to the Armed Forces and their families after years of sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan, where 264 servicemen and women have been killed and more than 1,000 injured.

The day would be marked by all troops, both on and off duty, being encouraged to wear uniform in public, with open days at barracks and announcements in school assemblies.

The campaign has also received the backing of Quentin Davies, the Labour MP who is leading the National Recognition Study Team, which will consider ways of improving the public's relationship with the military and understanding of its work.

Mr Davies said: "I will be recommending something along the line of an Armed Forces Day when I report to the Prime Minister in the next few weeks."

More than 20 military charities have backed the campaign and 10 councils from Hamp-shire to Bury and Plymouth to Colchester have called on the Government to create an Armed Forces Day.

The Royal British Legion (RBL), the War Widows' Association, the Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal Naval and Royal Air Force Associations are among the charities that have expressed support.

A spokesman for the RBL said: "The Legion supports the idea of an Armed Forces Day as it would provide for public recognition of the contribution our servicemen make to our society."

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Lt Gen Parker said: "Anything that anybody can do that can connect us with the communities we come from has got to be a good thing. It would be a fantastic effort and initiative. The idea of doing this is humbling, and is hugely appreciated."

His views echoed those of Gen Lord Guthrie, the chief of the defence staff under Tony Blair, who said: "An Armed Forces Day would be welcome and supported by the military. It is a marvellous idea."

The campaign has also attracted support from the three main political parties. An early day motion tabled by David Hamilton, the Labour MP for Midlothian, calling for greater public recognition for the Armed Forces, has received the support of more than 40 MPs in three days.

Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: "Our Armed Forces' bravery has never been in doubt. I would welcome an official day to recognise that commitment."

ICM interviewed 1,002 adults by telephone between March 12 and 13.

Provided By: Telegraph - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/16/narmyday116.xml


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