Donald Wilson: It’s important to reflect on wartime sacrifices

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Tomorrow morning, Edinburgh will join the rest of the world in observing Remembrance Day – a commemoration of the sacrifices of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war.

Two minutes’ silence will be marked at 11 o’clock and I will be joined by the First Minister at Scotland’s national remembrance ceremony on the Royal Mile.

My father was the Captain’s cook aboard the HMS Aurora, which saw service in the Mediterranean during WWII, and, notably in 1945, he cooked at the Yalta Conference, where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met to decide Europe’s future.

He always told us that he went to war so we didn’t have to – and thankfully he lived to tell the tale.

His words echo those of the Kohima Epitaph – ‘When you go home tell them of us and say; for your tomorrow these gave their today’ – recited during the Royal British Legion’s Annual Parade and Remembrance Service at which I laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Edinburgh.

The event also marked the opening of Poppy Scotland’s first ever Field of Remembrance in Edinburgh. Around 11,000 crosses have been planted in East Princes Gardens, each displaying a personal message.

One cross bears the name of Lieutenant Andrew Chesterman, killed in Afghanistan on August 9. His Battalion, 3rd The Rifles, was awarded the Freedom of Edinburgh last weekend. One of my more humbling duties was to present the Queen Elizabeth Cross to the Lieutenant’s father.

I would encourage you to spend some time in the Field of Remembrance and to reflect upon the sacrifices being made every day by so many courageous men and women for this country.

• Donald Wilson is Lord Provost of Edinburgh