As Patron of The Memorial Gates Trust, I am honoured to have had a role in establishing a lasting memorial to commemorate the vital role of millions of volunteers from the Indian sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean in both World Wars and the ultimate sacrifice so many of these brave men and women made in defence of freedom and democracy. I am delighted that, at long last, their support for Britain at some of the darkest moments in her history has been properly recognized and that these Memorial Gates now give a fitting acknowledgement, in the heart of London, of their valiant role.
Today's ceremony at The Memorial Gates is another, more personal way in which we can acknowledge the sacrifices that so many made, often thousands of miles from their homes and loved ones. I was delighted to learn that veterans and school children will be present, for in this way a younger generation will become aware of the immense contribution of these men and women, which they in turn will be able to communicate to succeeding generations. Inevitably, time takes its toll and it is so important that we make the most of such opportunities so the youth of today has a true understanding of the bravery and commitment of those who served.
Many descendants of these volunteers now live in the United Kingdom: in many cases a direct or indirect result of their military service in the Second World War and its aftermath. There is therefore a strong link between the sacrifices and service we are commemorating and the multi-cultural and multi-racial Britain of today and the future. Our recognition of the bravery and support of previous generations affirms their descendants' place in the United Kingdom. It is also a celebration of the links between Britain and the Commonwealth, our shared heritage, and the ways in which this heritage has influenced today's United Kingdom.
Today we remember the service of others; and in particular those who gave their lives, to whom we are eternally indebted. I am reminded of the famous words inscribed on the great War Memorial at Kohima in North-East India, for those whom we remember at this Service have truly shaped the world we live in now:
When you go home, tell them of us, and say: for your tomorrow we gave our today.