Today’s unveiling of a memorial outside the Ministry of Defence in London is a moment of huge significance. On the banks of the Thames a mighty stone monument will stand in silent commemoration of our campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Any person passing by will immediately reflect on the heroic deeds of British people in distant lands. More than 300,000 brave warriors took part in these immense endeavours over 25 years. Thousands were distinguished for their valour. Four exceptional individuals received the Victoria Cross.
Many more received life-long injuries while almost 700 made the supreme sacrifice and gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet their service and sacrifice was not in vain. Together they deposed a dictator, gave life to fledgling democracies where millions now vote, and helped keep our streets safe. This memorial now records their gallantry. It also recalls the grit of civilians who played a vital supporting role. Doctors pioneered revolutionary techniques that are still saving lives today, Aid workers provided essential humanitarian help to those most in need. Engineers built schools, reconnected electricity supplies, and got vital water supplies up and running. Unsung, maybe, but heroes all.
We can never repay our debt of gratitude to those courageous men and women. But a permanent testament to their tenacity now stands proudly beside memorials to the Korean and Second World Wars. They are all the best of British and the pride of our nation. Their efforts will never be forgotten.
Sir Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence