Thursday, 14 June 2007

Falklands 25 - Our Troops. Our Leader

On this 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands I had intended to pay my own tribute to the heroism and professionalism of the British Armed Forces as well as to the leadership and determination of Baroness Thatcher. However, having read a speech by former Conservative Party leader William Hague, I have instead decided to post an excerpt from the Rt. Hon. gentleman's address. The speech is long and I have therefore pruned it to those excerpts that best reflect the sentiments I wish to express:

"Next Thursday, the 14th of June 2007, will be the 25th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands. In celebrating that date, we will be remembering the ingenuity, heroism, the world-beating professionalism, and of course, the sacrifices, of the British armed forces, whose people were then, and are today, the best in the world. That it was possible to mount so successful a military campaign, 8,000 miles from home from a standing start and often in bad weather and on difficult seas, is testimony to their extraordinary efforts. That such an effort was made to restore freedom to 1,800 Britons is further testimony to our strong British sense of right and wrong, our support for international law and our fundamental belief that those who have lived under the protection of Britain should have the right to determine their own future, rather than have it dictated by anyone else.

And furthermore, that all of this was done, and that it was done with an unwavering sense of leadership which combined the necessary application of military force with the great advantage of moral force, is a tribute above all to the extraordinary resolve and clear sighted determination of our then Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher. As she said on the 20th of May that year, "Britain has a responsibility to the Islanders, to restore their democratic way of life. She has a duty to the whole world that aggression will not succeed and to uphold the cause of freedom." It was a time when the world held its breath and when much of it then breathed the long sigh of relief that a leader who said such things turned out also to mean them.

That is why the liberation of the Falkland Islands will always be more than just another one of the countless military engagements of history: the manner and purpose of their recovery are no mere details in the historical record, but a lasting inspiration that showed that freedom can be defended, and a lasting reminder that we must always retain the strength to do so. So while tonight we are celebrating this event 25 years on, we can be confident that we or our successors will be doing so 50, 75 and 100 years on and that what was established beyond doubt in 1982 will not be forgotten.

..we are here this evening to celebrate the achievement of our former leader and former Prime Minister, who inspired a country to support a war we did not seek, but in the end had to fight, and to help people few in number, but who are as British as all of us here.

Margaret Thatcher sliced through the official opinions of many mandarins at the time, not to mention a few Ministers, and brought a diplomatic and military campaign into being through sheer force of personality. In doing so, she ensured respect for Britain in the world, as a champion of freedom and law. She set the tone which allowed her to strengthen alliances which confronted the global threat of that time, alliances which the United Kingdom still holds dear.

Her passion for liberty, her respect for the rule of law, her willingness to confront regimes who pose a threat to liberty and law, and her determination to do what was right, are part of an enduring and precious legacy not only to the Conservative Party but to the whole country. Whenever in the future we need to safeguard Britons at home or abroad, or confront those who threaten us, or defend the right of a people to decide their own future, the events in the Falkland Islands will always set a standard and the name of Margaret Thatcher will forever be an inspiration." -- The Rt. Hon William Hague, P.C., M.P.

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