YP Comment: '˜A time for war, a time for peace'

'A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace'. Sombre words to mark the unveiling of a striking monument to all those members of the Armed Forces and civilians who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, they had even more resonance because they were spoken so eloquently by Prince Harry who is among those to whom we owe a debt of thanks for their courage.

Queen Elizabeth II unveils a new Iraq and Afghanistan memorial by Paul Day at Victoria Embankment Gardens in London, honouring the Armed Forces and civilians who served their country during the Gulf War and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Designed by the acclaimed sculptor Paul Day, these two large stone monoliths supporting a bronze medallion depicting a battlefield scene from the desert are a fitting tribute to two conflicts in which the return of coffins to repatriation ceremonies at Royal Wootton Bassett became an all-too-frequent occurrence as the UK’s death toll mounted with monotonous regularity.

Located in the shadow of the Ministry of Defence, it’s a powerful reminder of this country’s enduring debt to the Armed Forces – and its duty to ensure they have the very best kit and equipment when they’re asked to risk their lives in the name of freedom. Most fitting of all, this imposing tribute includes no names of the fallen, including the many service personnel from Yorkshire who made the ultimate sacrifice, because of a conscious decision to acknowledge their civilian colleagues whose selfless bravery has never been given due recognition until now.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Though the Queen and senior members of the Royal family were present for a heartfelt service of dedication, it was inevitable that Tony Blair would be the focus of attention. Though some relatives of the fallen lamented the then PM’s presence, there would have been a greater outcry if he had not attended. Moving forward, let’s hope – and pray – that Theresa May never has to take the invidious decisions that Mr Blair, and the country, faced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks against the free world. If only hindsight was a practical and pragmatic foreign policy.

Prince Harry speaks at the Military Drumhead Service on Horse Guards Parade in London, ahead of the unveiling of a national memorial honouring the Armed Forces and civilians who served their country during the Gulf War and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 9, 2017. See PA story DEFENCE Memorial. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Prince Harry speaks at the Military Drumhead Service on Horse Guards Parade in London, ahead of the unveiling of a national memorial honouring the Armed Forces and civilians who served their country during the Gulf War and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 9, 2017. See PA story DEFENCE Memorial. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire