Earlier in the year I raised the idea of making 11th November a public holiday as a memorial to the sacrifices in war of all service personnel.
Following that article hundreds of people have expressed there support for the idea. Nearly 400 people joined the support group on Facebook and over 200 people voted in an online poll conducted by the Hawkinge Gazette - with well over 80% voting in favour.
This would be a particularly significant time to consider such a mark of respect, with the funeral earlier in the year of Harry Patch, the last living link we had to World War One. As many of you will know I am also Chairman of the Step Short campaign group which is campaigning to restore the Road of Remembrance in Folkestone as a memorial to the hundreds of thousands of men who left for the trenches from the town's harbour. On 4th October we held a memorial march along the Leas and down the Road of Remembrance which was supported by over 300 people, including veterans. This is pictured at the top of this post.
As part of my consultation as to whether we should promote the idea of 11th November becoming a public holiday we have discussed the question whether this should be a new holiday or whether we should move one of the holidays earlier in the year. The first preference was a for a new holiday and the second favourite would be to move one of the two May bank holidays.
For some time now there has been much speculation about whether we should have an additional public holiday in Britain, and also how we should mark the passing of the last of the veterans of the trenches of the First World War. By making 11th November a public holiday we can address both of these questions. Of course in other Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand, the idea of a public holiday to honour the war dead has been in place for many years. Both these countries mark ANZAC day on 25th April, the anniversary of the first day of the Gallipoli landings during the First World War, where so many soldiers from Australia and New Zealand lost their lives.