AN EX SOLDIER'S MESSAGE TO MAINSTREAM MEDIA FOR REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 2016....
Remembrance Sunday falls on November 13th in 2016 - a day I'm pretty sure the Mainstream Media are preparing to gorge themselves and force feed the population of Great Britain the same dish they attempted to feed us all on in 2015 'Velouté d'irrespectueux Corbyn' (Cream of Disrespectful Corbyn Soup).
I am a one time soldier who served his country starting at the age of 16, the son of a career soldier and a man proud of his Grandfather who served as a Frontiersman in WW1 in the trenches. My Grandad survived the war but not unscathed. He was mustard gassed so badly my most abiding memory of this 4'11" giant of a man was his coughing fits just getting out of a chair, not that it ever stopped him doing what he wanted whether that be growing his own vegetables, making furniture or scouring dumps to build me a bicycle when I started my first job between leaving school and joining the Junior Leaders Regiment in Bovington, Dorset on September 9th 1975.
Grandad also had a very bad limp, the result of a shrapnel wound as big as a fist, indeed his mum received several telegrams informing her of his death but grandad kept coming home. In WW2 he was an Air Raid Warden and received the George Cross for something he never spoke about - in fact, Grandad never said much about what he saw in those dark days.
He never complained, never cursed or cussed about his health, the only serious time when he might get grumpy was on a Saturday afternoon when he wanted silence as he checked the football scores and his pools coupon. Otherwise that man was sunshine and light all the time.
When I visited him we would stroll down to the newsagent to get his paper and he always managed to embarrass me by trying to fix me up with the pretty assistant behind the counter. You might have guessed it already, I loved that man, he was my hero and he loved me.
My father who served with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment saw action too in Cyprus and in N. Ireland though he never spoke to me about it, I was proud of him too but he was never the hero my Grandfather was and I was never the son my younger brother was to him, so the connection I had with Grandad I never had with my father - but what they had in common was they were both prepared put their lives on the line for peace and Queen and Country.
So when the media set out to disparage Corbyn last year for not singing the National Anthem, instead standing in silence during the Battle of Britain remembrance service, branding him disloyal and disrespectful, I was incensed and disgusted and, like many knew more was to come when as the new Labour leader he would lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.
The media did not let us down. Corbyn refused to bow was the cry of outrage. The fact that Jeremy nodded and did not bend like he was pecking seed from the ground was enough ammunition for the media to start a feeding frenzy and they made a meal of it.
The Sun had a field day regardless of the fact that Jeremy Corbyns' nod was clear and whilst not a bow still a clear sign of respect. The media failed to report that afterwards whilst the other Party leaders went to gorge themselves on a VIP lunch Jeremy stayed to applaud the Veterans march past or that he made his way to Horseguards spending time talking with those Veterans and allowing exhaustive selfies the Veterans asked for.
They failed to report that the man then went on to perform a duty he has performed year on year in his constituency, laying a wreath at a church in the afternoon and then going on to a demo at the Emirates demanding Arsenal FC pay the staff that keep the club running and the pitch perfect a living wage before watching his team beat Spurs, after which he then mingled with both sets of fans - one Spurs fan notably shaking Corbyns' hand and telling him he must lead Labour to victory for the sake of the country and the working man whilst Jeremy sported his Arsenal colours!!
An exhaustive day for a man half his age yet typical of the Labour leader.
As an ex soldier, a man who grew up an army brat following my father back and forth from England to Germany from the age of three, I was brought up on imperialism and the might of the British Empire.
My earliest memory of the Royal family was waving a Union Jack from behind the fence at the bottom of my first school sports field with the entire school as the Queen Mum visited the Roundhouse NAAFI in Hohne in Germany, close to the Belsen Concentration Camps. She waved at us as we hip hip hurrayed her and sang the national anthem.
Later, many years later as a regimental bandsman with the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards, I was to perform at the Queens Silver Jubilee Review in Sennalager in 1977 as Her Majesty took the salute and armoured vehicles, troops and air power passed by and over her on a gloriously hot day.
I stood and baked in ceremonial uniform with a brass helmet that felt like it was boiling my brain. I stood tall and proud, although I had not reached my now 5'6" by then, and played my Clarinet in a mass band the size of which boggled my young mind. I could see her Majesty and she looked decidedly bored throughout, whilst I was in awe of her.
Her speech would have sent me to sleep had I not been on my feet, I honestly could not remember a single word of it when the parade was over but I was immensely proud to have been a part of it all. It was the biggest parade I was ever to be a part of as a bandsman, although there were many important parades ahead of me.
For me, the abiding memory of last year's Remembrance Ceremony is not so much the 'Bow' but the total disrespect of the media, whose focus was not on those who died giving their lives in the World Wars and other conflicts for the freedom of our country, but on bashing a man who became leader of the Labour Party because he just might spoil their party of greed.
What we saw was nothing to do with the day and what it was about, but a headlong race to see who could sell the most papers or win the most viewers on the most hideous headline of lies. Anything to make a buck and trash the unlikeliest of leadership victories that threatens the status quo - of the wealthiest bleeding the poorest dry.
No doubt we will see it all again this year, our media forgetting the respect we should be showing to those who gave their lives to ride the horse of the anti Corbyn charge and wrapping it all up in Nationalism whilst trying to claim the moral high ground.
As the grandson of a WW1 veteran and receiver of the George Cross, the highest award for bravery for a civilian in WW2. As the son of a career serving soldier who put his life on the line and as a man who served and flew the flag for Britain and the British Army around the world, I accuse the media of disrespect in taking their focus from what the day is really about.
Those men who were sent to die so that we have the life and freedom to choose for ourselves are who we remember that day. Whether we drag ourselves out of bed and attend a parade or a church service, whether we watch the televised laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph, whether we stop and stand in silence when shopping in B&Q, or like I saw when as a baker in Tesco when many would stand for two minutes, some just carry on chatting and selecting items ignoring those that have their heads bowed in silent memory, the choice is ours.
The fact is those men didn't die for the media to use it to bash a man who might or might not have shown enough respect, they died that we are free to choose to live our lives the way we want to live them and to choose to remember or ignore their sacrifice.