Falklands : LEWIS CLIFTON’S FULL REMARKS AT THE MONDAY RECEPTION FOR THE VETERANS
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.11.2007 (Article Archived on 06.12.2007)
We come together this evening for our final reception, as we begin to say farewell to Veterans, family members, and the Combat Stress team who have resided with us and shared many experiences with us during this past week.
LEWIS CLIFTON’S FULL REMARKS AT THE MONDAY RECEPTION FOR THE VETERANS
Minister Twigg, Your Excellency, Commander British Forces, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, and most importantly of all Good Evening Veterans.
We come together this evening for our final reception, as we begin to say farewell to Veterans, family members, and the Combat Stress team who have resided with us and shared many experiences with us during this past week. And what a memorable week it has been – even the weather. Many of you may have questioned, like we, the applicability of global warming concerns here in the Falklands. Regrettably global cooling seems to have been the underpinning experience of the week.
However, setting aside the vagaries of the appalling weather, we hope that you have enjoyed your week equally as much as we have enjoyed hosting you, taking you to distant nooks and crannies where memories needed to be set at rest.
The success of the 1982 winter war restored our freedom and re-established our right to freely determine our own future under the government of our choosing. Tremendous sacrifice was given and severe injury inflicted on others to restore our freedom. We shall never fail to recognise those sacrifices, nor the huge commitment and dedication of the men and women who sailed in the Task Force. Neither shall we forget those many tens of thousands of others in Great Britain who served for, or who worked in support of the Task Force, and who shared in the outpouring of national pride when you returned home victorious to your loved ones.
This past week, we have remembered with you, your fallen comrades, and shared your grief and distress. It is important to remember as we all move forward. Our thoughts reach out to those who still suffer and who are distressed. At the same time we hope that having returned to our shores you will depart tomorrow with a much lighter heart full of fond memories of a people who remain eternally grateful.
Your determination in 1982, backed by a resolute and forthright Mrs Thatcher, delivered a special victory. Special for us, because it placed the Falkland Islands on a road to social and economic development, in a way we could only but dream of before 1982. We have through hard effort and determination, endeavoured to construct a living memorial upon the ashes of destruction, death and injury; a living memorial of a modern and vibrant Falkland Islands. We salute you. We salute you for giving us confidence; for giving us sense of vision; and, and for instilling in us a firm belief of the future - our future.
Many relationships have been forged over the last days, while other friendships have been renewed as memories, new and old, have been re-kindled. We earnestly hope that we have been able to show you that our British-ness, and our way of life remain firmly in tact. We bid you a fond farewell. We hope that you will be able to tell your comrades and friends back home that you found in the Falklands a society whose growth and vitality is the enduring memorial to all of you who restored our freedom in 1982.
Here in the Falklands we have registered a local charity – SAMA (FI) 1982. It serves to support the endeavours of SAMA UK, not only in terms of this pilgrimage, but in support of numerous other veterans who have a need to return to lay ghosts to rest. Much of the organising of this pilgrimage has been led by Gary Clement who deserves special mention this evening.
In concluding I now ask FI residents here present to raise their glasses and toast our very special guests and extend “Thank you for our Freedom and our Future”.