Every war memorial in every village, every town and every city across our country is sacred and serves to remind us of the immeasurable gratitude that we must afford to our armed forces, both past and present.
The passage of time always presents the danger of dimmed collective recollections. Let us not forget the sacrifice and bravery of those who paid the ultimate price: young men and women who gave up their futures, loves, lives and dreams to ensure that the freedoms they once knew were protected from tyranny—for us, the unborn generations, who now sit idly by as monuments dedicated to their eternal memory are desecrated.
I will not sit idly by, and neither will I be silent.
Those who vandalise and abuse these monuments do not have the capacity to comprehend the strength, courage and bravery that it must have taken.
Memorials stand in great, solemn, eternal remembrance of the glorious dead. We cannot bring back those lives, or erase the grief of families and communities, but the least we can do is ensure that memorials are adequately protected, and punish those who would deface, urinate on, spit on, defile, or graffiti them.
Such actions, which have included swastikas spray-painted on statues, and Nazi salutes in 2020 before the Cenotaph, are the price we pay for ignorance and inaction.
A blessed bond is formed between our present and our past through memorials. We see ourselves in the names and images of our fallen heroes, and perhaps we pause to reflect whether we would have had their courage and their nerves of steel in the face of evil itself.
I am delighted, however, to represent the great town of Kidsgrove, where the Kidsgrove & Districts Royal British Legion, on its own initiative, has set up a beautiful war memorial garden that is used every November to lay wreaths and remember our fallen.
It has been an undoubted pleasure to attend the veterans breakfast club in Smallthorne, run by Martyn Hunt and Paul Horton , which serves all veterans across Stoke-on-Trent as a way of bringing our heroes together to share their stories and lend support to one another.
I am asking the House of Commons to do the respectable thing—the right thing—and back this Bill to create an explicit offence, distinguishable from damage to public property.