YP Letters: Our young must rediscover mindset of service to country

From: Dominic Jones, Member of Youth Parliament for Barnsley.

Commemmorations to mark the centenary of the Armistice should also prompt a wider debate about values, says Dominic Jones.

THIS time of year is a time for those of all ages to think and reflect on all who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country. After declaring war on Germany on August 4, 1914, brothers, friends and families from across the county went to war together as part of the Pals Battalions that were integral to the make-up of the British army that entered the First World War.

In particular, the local 13th (1st Barnsley Pals) and 14th (2nd Barnsley Pals) Battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment who eagerly went to fight the German army, aiming to protect the peace and security of our nation, reflected the desire of young men up and down the country who were fulfilling and demonstrating a true sense of national service and honour. Many never returned and perished on the battlefield whilst others came back wounded or seriously injured.

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The sense of camaraderie amongst soldiers and communities during war is second to none,and one that we must endeavour to establish and protect in our deeply divided country. The 31st American President Herbert Hoover once said “older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die” – a quote that is reflective of how the old should trust the young to run and ‘fight’ for our country both now and in the future. Those who have fought or lost their lives in wars aimed to build a better country and defend our values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for others that we hold so dear. It is on this basis that the young of today should be empowered to be the leaders of tomorrow.

By encouraging young people to develop a mindset of ‘service’ to their country and community, we can ensure that unity emerges in today’s deeply fragmented society.

Measures such as cutting youth services, only offering ‘little extras’ to schools to develop future generations, having age inequality within the minimum wage pay scale and creating a housing market that discriminates against first-time buyers, often on the younger end of the age scale, do not pass on a positive message to young people that their hard work, in contributing significantly to society, is fairly rewarded.

Only by equipping our young people to face the challenges they will face in life can the mindset of ‘service’ be engrained into the minds of future generations who will sufficiently protect our country and communities and the values that they so proudly hold.