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As each year passes, those of us who served in the Second World War become fewer and fewer. Those who are left are rightly honoured and thanked for being part of what many, me included, regard as our greatest generation.

They were the people who were called upon to save the freedom of the world from tyranny and oppression. In very large measure, they succeeded, but the price was a very high one. This week’s Eightieth Anniversary of Operation Overlord and the D Day Landings of June 1944 has been poignant, moving and powerful.

I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of the sacrifices made between 1939 and 1945. I was born about twenty years after the end of the war, but it loomed large over our lives.

I was able to meet and talk to people who served, when they chose to share their recollections. Many chose never to speak about what happened during those years, but those who did have left us an incredible record of human endeavour.

Take my late great uncle, for example. He served in the British Expeditionary Force in France at the outset of the War, and in that torrid June of 1940 had to get out for Britain quickly via western France.

The journey was dangerous and arduous. Many others who made that trek did not get out alive. On the home front, my family played their part in the War effort, from taking in evacuees and indeed Jewish refugees from Europe, to doing the job of Air Raid Warden.

After the war, my dad was amongst the last who did their National Service, with his two years in the Army at a time when the Cold War was at its height and when we all understood the need for strength and vigilance.

It is this record, this collective history, that we must commemorate and remember. Why? Because all too often, we forget the lessons of the past and repeat the same mistakes all over again.

True peace is only maintained through strength, with international mechanisms that function properly. Anything less than that is merely an absence of war. Britain is right to expand its spending on defence and to maintain our independent nuclear deterrent, too.

At a time when our peace and way of life is under threat from the rogue nuclear state of Russia, and the rise of a deeply authoritarian China, this is not a luxury choice. Alongside our commemoration of the D Day Landings, we have to remember the circumstances that brought us to that momentous invasion.

After a First World War in which millions had died, people were determined to never again have to endure war, at any price. The mistake of appeasement was to assume that our opponents were reasonable people who would also do anything to avoid war. We must never repeat this. We have to prepare for the worst, and work to achieve the best.

I am deeply proud of the continuing role of our armed forces in our national life.

As we honour our forebears who made the supreme sacrifice, let us also honour those who serve now and our veterans who gave so much too, by making 2.5% of our GDP a minimum for defence spending, and by making sure that our great country is safe for the next generation.

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