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Veterans carrying wreaths at the Commonwealth Day ceremony

Secretary-General honours Commonwealth volunteers who gave service in conflict

9 March 2020

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has paid tribute to the five million Commonwealth women and men who volunteered to serve in the two World Wars of the twentieth century.

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland joined veterans, military officials, high commissioners and other dignitaries to observe a minute's silence at the memorial gates service in London. The service takes place annually on Commonwealth Day.

Patricia Scotland bowed her head after laying a wreath on behalf of the Commonwealth, the yellow and blue flowers denoting the colours of the Commonwealth flag.

She said: “Today, as every day of the year, we honour women and men from Commonwealth countries who fought bravely in the two World Wars to keep our freedom alive and they succeeded. Sadly, many of them never returned home.

“I salute their legacy, manifested in our shared values, which guides us all to follow their example of duty in the service of humankind.

“We are living in troubled times but I hope the warmth, love and commitment of our Commonwealth brothers and sisters will shine as brightly today as it did all those years ago.”

This year marks 75 years since VE Day and VJ Day, and a particular focus of the ceremony of commemoration was on honouring the contributions of the many who served in Commonwealth forces in the Far East.

The UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said: “Today, we do not just remember the deeds of days gone by, we reflect on their legacy. A legacy embodied in the Commonwealth itself.

“We are 54 member nations uniting 2.4 billion people representing a fifth of all global trade. An organisation that over the years has remained a global force for good, fighting poverty, helping end apartheid, stopping violence and supporting good governance.

“In a more dangerous world, the values of Commonwealth shine brighter and our ties draw ever tighter.”