UK & World News
Country Celebrates Troops On Armed Forces Day
Communities across the UK have shown support for servicemen and women as the country celebrates Armed Forces Day.
More than 100 events, ranging from veterans' parades and bands to barbecues and fairs, were held at the culmination of a week of tributes to British troops and their families.
The day is marked to raise awareness of the contribution made by the Army, Navy and RAF, and to allow the public to demonstrate their appreciation.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Today is an opportunity for everyone up and down the country to clearly show how grateful we are to all our brave servicemen and women for all that they do.
"It's also vitally important that we remember the sacrifices that the armed forces and their families make every day for the safety of our country."
Around 6,000 people turned out for an emotional part of the Olympic Torch relay at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Corporal Johnson Beharry, the most recent member of the armed forces to receive the Victoria Cross, carried the flame up to the Armed Forces Memorial.
An honour guard formed by members of the 2nd Mercian regiment lined the steps as he took the flame to the top and stood solemnly in honour of those who have died serving their country since the Second World War.
After completing his section of the relay, Corporal Beharry told Sky News: "Carrying the torch on Armed Forces Day is amazing. For me it's about raising the profile and raising more awareness for us about what we do and to be respected a lot more."
Among those who attended the event at the National Memorial Arboretum were Michael Hawkins, 71, and his wife Gill, 61, from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Mr Hawkins, who served in the RAF for 36 years, said: "I came here today because I thought it was very important on Armed Forces Day to do something that I consider significant, to come here to the National Arboretum, but in particular to see Johnson Beharry."
The fourth Armed Forces Day comes as military charities report a 26% increase in donations since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008.
Help for Heroes saw a 181% gain in income, while Support Our Soldiers, which sends care parcels to the frontline, saw an 87% increase, according to The Sun.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Plymouth, where there was a parade through the city by members of all three services, joined by military bands and veterans.
The parade finished on the Plymouth Hoe with a drumhead service, and entertainment continued throughout the day.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Today I'm joining the rest of the country in saying thank you to our armed forces.
"We owe our servicemen and women a huge debt of gratitude for their dedication, resilience and sacrifices.
"For their incredible work, for putting their lives at risk so we can live in safety, for being prepared to leave their loved ones behind when they serve our country, from cooks, to medics, to volunteers, to troops on the front line in Afghanistan - every single contribution deserves recognition and celebration - as do those of our reservists, veterans and cadets."
Mr Clegg said the celebrations should "go some way to showing how grateful we are for the work of all our armed forces and how much we recognise their contribution".
"I also want to thank their families - who are parted from their loved ones for long periods of time, who live with uncertainty, and whose patience and bravery is recognised by us all."
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what do you think?
Thanks to all our armed forces. For all you do at home and away
Windows Live User
Thank you to all our forces. You undertake a very serious job in the face of adversity, and are the most important people in Britain. You make us all so proud to be British
Thank you to the best force's in the world I hope as many people as possible turn out at events all over the country to show there support for out boys makes me proud to be English looking forword to the event on plymouth hoe today music bands stalls and air display by the RAF Red devils display team and a load of other things there to do it wil be a great day for all the family highly recomeneded if you live in the south Devon area go on turn up and make our boys feel proud do your bit YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU
Please tell me Royal's going to be there. You can't have a show without Punch
You and me both mate, even if you are a cherry beret
Couldn't agree more Peter. They are all heroes and should be recognised as such,
It could well be your enemy, internetting, putting minus votes online. To be honest, I can only see two minus votes on my screen which is two too many, of course but one paragraph is difficult for me to even understand if it is supporting the army or not. Another cause of many online minus votes, is children, I think. I also think we should respect all soldiers who die in any war.
Totally agree with you all. Well said. Huge respect to all our armed forces, past and present X
so proud of our armed forces please return them safe and well to there family and friends
Trust Cameron and Clegg to jump on the bandwagon. Sanctimonious, patronising hypocrites. If they were sincere they would not be cutting? sorry - chopping manning levels and budgets. They are kidding no-one. Oh, and don't you feel too smug Milliband, you're tarred with the same brush
Whoops! Looks Like Nikki And Dave don't love me any more. That's my chances of the New Year's Honours List fornicated. Just need Eddie to spit the dummy and I've got a clean sweep.
What a sea change! I remember parades being banned from town centres unless the soldiers used guns that had been rendered incapable of firing. It seems that if nothing else, the latest "war on terror" has turned the army from a pariah to being popular. Maybe it's the start of positivism in Britain.
Remember your Kipling mate. It,s Tommy this and Tommy that And chuck him out the brute But it's thin red line of heroes When the guns begin to shoot Believe me, nothing's changed
Brian E Gorton
Thanks to all our men & women who serve trying to bring peace into this world.A vey special thanks to all who have given their all.God bless you all.
Who's the cowardly swine who voted against this comment? Stand up and show yourself for what you are.
Just came off parade at bridgend south wales and got to say a big thank you. Felt so proud to be a solider and really felt over whelmed by the support and respect shown to us. :D
Windows Live User
...and deservedly so. We cant show enough appreciation to our forces for the work they undertake on behalf of the British people
Cameron and Clegg should be ashamed, basking in the reflected glory of what real patriots do after they have inflicted the greatest cuts ever on our armed forces. We are asking too much from them, always expecting them to do more with less, and they risk paying the ultimate sacrifice for us. I am proud of our armed forces and to be British, but I am ashamed of Cameron, Clegg, Milliband, and of course, Brown and Blair. If only our politicians measured up to our soldiers, sailors and airmen, if only......
isn't it time the "armed forces" went after Tony Blair and George Bush???/