An important day the 23rd March 2019. Not just because of the one million plus supporters of a People's Vote winding their way through the streets of London but also because the Veterans for Europe were marching with their Commanding Officer, Brigadier Stephen Goodall.
The ‘CO’ is a 97 year old veteran of the WW2 Burma Campaign and knows a thing or two about why this country deserves a People's Vote, he will tell most passionately if you ask him. For the rest of us, it’s always good to ‘pull up a sandbag’ with your brothers and sisters in arms. Members of the Army, Navy and Airforce including veterans from WW2, Cyprus, the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Gulf War 1, Bosnia (Former Yugoslavia), Iraq and Afghanistan all there to show what true patriotism means. Patriotism is not just wrapping yourself in the Union Flag but having and showing respect for our friends and allies after all this is 2019 not 1945. If you want to understand peace, speak to those who have known war and who understand the value of not fighting, the founding reason for the European Union…
Whenever you have a group of veterans gathered together singing tends to keep morale at its highest levels so, in true form, we belted out ‘Remainer’ favourites. It’s amazing who you find singing along…all in good humour.
It was gratifying to receive the applause of many watching the march from the streets, and we thanked everyone profusely, but we are part of a much larger and important force, that of the ‘People’s Vote’.
As we approached Parliament Square we had one more vital duty to perform. All singing stopped, berets were straightened and some organisation was shown in the ranks. We are the decedents of far greater men and women and our duty is to remember those who are not marching with us. ‘Eye’s left! At the Cenotaph to salute the heroes and heroines of the past.
And finally, into Parliament Square for a group photo, a little more singing, wishing the CO and four generations of his family safe travels home, a few speeches and then, the final RV…The Red Lion.
I already supported a People's Vote but Saturday showed me why it's vital that the public get a say on any Brexit deal.
Stuart Thompson is co-founder of Veterans for Europe and chair of Worcestershire for Europe.